(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Works. With introd., general essay and notes by Andrew Lang"

' 

GADSHILL EDITION. 



The Works of Charles Dickens 

In Thirty-two Volumes. 

WITH INTRODUCTIONS, GENERAL ESSAY, AND NOTES 
BY ANDREW LANG. 

VOL. XVI. 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

VOL. I. 



Printed from the Edition that was carefully corrected ly the Author 
in 1867 and 1868. 








BY 



CHARLIES BKCKIEMS 




BLEAK HOUSE 



By CHARLES DICKENS 



WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES 

BY 

ANDREW LANG 



Two Vols. Vol. I. 

WITH THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS 



LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, LD. 

NEW YORK : CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1897 



INTRODUCTION. 



THE internal history of Bleak House is not of unusual interest. 
A year elapsed between the completion of Copperjield and 
the beginning of the new novel, in Dickens^s new abode in 
Tavistock Square, which suggested that of Mr. Tulkinghorn. 
November, 1851, saw the story commenced, and November 
may have suggested the description of a " London particular " 
in fogs. They have been a curse since the Restoration, at 
least, and, whatever may be the case with Chancery, they 
grow worse rather than better. But not even Dickens could 
" write them down." Dickens wavered between many titles, 
and " Tom-All-Alone's " seems originally to have been the 
name of the house which got into Chancery. Dickens did 
not find himself at home with his work. He desired to 
wander, "to Paris, Rouen, Switzerland somewhere." He 
expressed dissatisfaction at not being able "to grind sparks 
out of his dull blade," though he was often pleased with his 
work when the sparks were much less frequent. He suspected 
himself of hypochondria, and had a sense of overwork. This 
may have been the result of the energy which he put into 
editing Household Words, and the inevitable troubles with 
contributors. He felt as if his mind had been " materialised, 
and drawn along the tops of all the spikes on the outside 



vi INTRODUCTION. 

of the Queen's Bench Prison;" all this on account of some 
"jolter-headed" article in his serial. He found rest at 
Dover and Boulogne, and pleasure in the success of his 
novel. " I like the conclusion very much, and think it very 
pretty indeed. The story has taken extraordinarily, especially 
during the last five or six months. ... It has retained its 
immense circulation from the first, beating dear old Copper- 
field by a round ten thousand or more. I have never had so 
many readers." Visiting London in September, 1853, Dickens 
saw a solitary being in a trunk-shop, " absorbed in a book 
which, on a close inspection, I found to be Bleak House" 
The last number appeared in September, 1853. 

The purpose of Bleak House is, of course, didactic. The 
reformation of Chancery, the duty of attending to the 
neglected classes, rather than of sending moral pocket-hand 
kerchiefs to Borrioboola-Gha, these are Dickens's points. 
Criticism has ever been opposed to " novels with a purpose," 
but the public has not shared the critical aversion. We 
cannot say that the best novels, Tom Jones or Rob Roy> have 
been written with a definite moral or reforming aim. But 
Fielding preaches nearly as much as Thackeray, and even 
Scott avows a moral intention in his manner of concluding 
Ivanlioe. Dickens, however, drove at definite abuses. The 
objections to this course, in a work of art, are obvious. You 
cannot be fair to your opponent's case if you write, under 
the disguise of a novel, a tract on Biblical Criticism, the 
Institution of Marriage, the Game Laws, or any such topic. 
You put up feeble characters, with feeble arguments, for the 
purpose of knocking them down and confuting them. It is 
argued, on the other side, that the public will not read 
arguments in any shape but that of romance. By dint 
of a novel you can make a girl into a charming little 



INTRODUCTION. vii 

atheist, as Shelley said, a girl who would not look at a 
serious treatise. This is rather an argument of despair, 
for what are we to think of the world's wisdom if the 
world can only be taught in a manner conspicuously unfair ? 
The case of Uncle Torres Cabin shows what a romance 
can do, and an author may, and often does, exclaim, "I 
am no mere amuser. I am, and insist on being, a teacher." 
The novel is becoming the club of a number of modern 
representatives of Heracles. The romance usurps the place 
of the pulpit, and the public loves to have it so. The 
advantage is on the side of the attack. Nobody writes 
successful defensive novels : the Bible, the Altar, Property, 
the Court of Chancery, are defended, if at all, non tali auxilio. 
We may not regard this as a highly satisfactory posture of 
affairs; it does rather seem to indicate excited frivolity. 
However, we need not read novels with a purpose, if we do 
not like them. Dickens's purpose, at least, was excellent, 
and it may be argued that the artist has a perfect right to 
select a group of human lives, all dominated and darkened 
by the shadow of one huge mischievous survival of an institu 
tion. The real test is the interest of the result, and the 
interest of Bleak House is undeniable and permanent. We 
may not care much about the Court of Chancery ; it might 
become as obsolete as the Minotaur of Crete ; yet we must 
continue to be concerned about its victims. This is vindica 
tion enough, even in the eyes of persons who disbelieve in 
and dislike novels with a definite purpose. The faculty of 
humour is, commonly, marked by entire absence in purposeful 
novelists. This does not promise permanence for their 
." deplorably tedious lamentations ; " but as soon as we meet 
Mr. Guppy, victim of le coup de foudre, and Mrs. Jellyby, 
we recognise that Dickens is no ordinary reformer by means 
L* 6 



viii INTRODUCTION. 

of tracts. Mr. Guppy falls in love as suddenly as Dante. 
The incident of the young Jelly by, who, being extricated 
from a position full of peril, straightway " began to beat Mr. 
Guppy with a hoopstick in quite a frantic manner," could 
only have been invented or recorded by a mirfute observer 
of infancy. In this young child's position, gored by a 
broomstick, compressed by area railings, dragged, pushed, 
and threatened by the black abyss of the area, which of 
us would not have assaulted Mr. Guppy ? 

We have all met Mrs. Jellyby, in whom Mr. Jellyby was 
"merged." Sometimes she is on the School Board. Her voice 
resounds in the sacred causes of Temperance and Contagious 
Disease. She proclaims our Anglo-Israelite descent. She 
advocates Polygamy or Polyandry. She is a Poet, a Faith- 
Healer, an Irish or other patriot. Armenia owes much to her 
powerful advocacy, so does the White Rose League. Mr. 
Jellyby either follows her like the Prophet's Donkey or he 
behaves like a brute : perhaps one prefers to see him behave 
like a brute. The man has no choice between that course and 
the bewildered acquiescence of Mrs. Jellyby's own husband. 
" There was nothing in the grate but ashes, a bundle of wood, 
and a poker." Mrs. Jellyby, as a public character, is admirable. 
Africa, we have since learned, really is well worth grabbing. Had 
Mrs. Jellyby shunted Jo to Africa (which, after all, was part 
of her programme), instead of being moved on, he might have 
built a house in Park Lane and bought the Dedlock estate. 
We ought to be grateful to Mrs. Jellyby and other ladies 
who, as may be said, " run " South Africa, raids and all ; but 
for the Mr. Jellybys we must express the most sympathetic 
commiseration and tolerance. Their occasional excesses we 
would condone, for the curtains of Mrs. Jellyby were " fastened 
up with a fork." " If there's any stuff in the world I detest, 



INTRODUCTION. ix 

it's the stuff that he and ma talk," says Caddy Jellyby. 
Now, the stuff talked by Mrs. Jellyby and Mr. Quale was " The 
Brotherhood of Humanity." That Dickens should have 
sympathised with Caddy proves him to have been no common 
novelist with a purpose. That sort of author has no eye for 
the moral beauties of Mr. Gusher and Mrs. Pardiggle. Of 
all men, Dickens must have suffered from the assiduities of 
the busy bodies who never cease from getting up memorials 
and testimonials. In modern life, the mere circumstance that 
a literary man's name appears in newspapers attracts bores 
as sugar attracts flies. These people know nothing and care 
nothing for their victim's work. He is merely a target to be 
fired at, a purse (lean enough, usually) to be dragged at, by the 
Gushers, Quales, and Pardiggles. When we think that the 
fathers and mothers of our daily modern bores were as active, 
nearly fifty years ago, as their progeny to-day, we recognise 
the inability of satire to abate a nuisance. Chancery may 
get itself reformed, but the bore is unconverted by irony. 
But the victims of the bore are consoled, in Bleak House, 
for their Pardiggles. To this end, Mr. Skimpole might say, 
the Pardiggles were created, that, in reading Bleak House, 
there might be a smile on the lips of men. 

Harold Skimpole is one of Dickens's many immortal 
characters. He is, as usual, overdrawn, no doubt, for men in 
real life are not incessantly betraying their essential charac 
teristics. Harold never speaks, hardly, without repeating 
himself and his philosophy. Every one has heard that Dickens 
borrowed the manner, but not the baseness of the character, 
from his friend Leigh Hunt. It is true that Hunt rather 
regarded it as a duty in mankind to support him. We know 
how much he received from Shelley ; but it would be impossible 
even for Z," in the old Blackwootfs Magazine of 1817-1825, 



* INTRODUCTION. 

to maintain that, to Shelley, Leigh Hunt was ungrateful. 
Byron, on the other hand, was not " a cheerful giver," and 
Hunt's work on Byron is a thing best forgotten. Hunt was 
always needing assistance, and being assisted, as by Dickens 
himself. He confessed, in his autobiography, to a Skimpolean 
incapacity for figures and business. He cherished a kind of 
Socialism ; in the Aristotelian phrase, he held that " the goods 
of friends are common/'' but then he had seldom any goods. 
On the other hand, he was not a do-nothing, like Skimpole, 
but a hard-working man of letters. Macaulay wrote as if 
Hunt deserved the satire in Skimpole ; but this is a hard 
judgment, and inconsistent with Hunt's affection for Shelley. 
While Boythorn is meant as a study of Lander's manner, 
Boythorn is intended for a sympathetic character. Skimpole 
is persistently odious and mean, so that Leigh Hunt's friends 
did well to be angry. Dickens said, with obvious truth, that 
he never meant " the imaginary vices of the fictitious creature" 
to be charged against his old friend. But his old friend's old 
enemies had made similar charges. Dickens had partly altered 
Skimpole, after consultation with Procter and Forster, but too 
much of the original remained. Mr. Ketton observes that 
Wilkie Collins's copy of Forster's Life of Dickens contains a 
manuscript note to the effect that Leigh Hunt himself remon 
strated with the novelist. The affair is to be regretted. A 
man who is always writing, always studying character, always 
accepting hints from real life, is apt to fall into these errors. 
Dickens thought, no doubt, that Skimpole was not a recog 
nisable portrait; in Dickens, on the whole, they are very 
rare. Except in Mr. Fang he never intentionally satirised 
an individual. So much cannot be said for all novelists. 

Bleak House, with Great Expectations) and perhaps A Tale 
of Two Cities, is probably Dickens's best-constructed story. 






INTRODUCTION. xi 

Construction was not his forte, and the monthly mode of 
publication is obviously hostile to this skill. "Nothing is 
introduced at random, everything tends to the catastrophe, 
the various lines of the plot converge and fit to its centre, 1 ' 
says Mr. Forster. As in The Bride of Lammermoor, the 
Odyssey, and the NjdTs Saga, we have omens pointing in 
one way the deepening sound of the tread in the Ghost's 
Walk. Every incident concurs in the discovery of Lady 
Dedlock's slip from virtue, and the chief objection seems to 
be that that coincidence is overstrained. Things fit even 
too well. 

The very marked resemblance between Lady Dedlock and 
Esther is hardly consistent with the accounts of Esthers own 
appearance. Lady Dedlock is scarcely the woman to take 
the nocturnal prowl with Jo. Mr. Tulkinghorn is the last 
man to ferret out a secret on which nothing hangs but a 
lady's character. To be sure, his nature includes a love 
of getting hold of secrets for their own sake. But it also 
includes respect for family honour, and in real life Mr. 
Tulkinghorn would have asked no questions, which are always 
awkward things. The best way of keeping a secret is not to 
know it, and Mr. Tulkinghorn was the very man to under 
stand this. Yet he takes every kind of step which is likely 
to make Lady Dedlock's secret public property. If he 
abstained there would be no story, but his conduct must not 
shake human confidence in family solicitors. They are too 
sagacious to imitate Mr. Tulkinghorn. 

Bleak House is full of characters ; perhaps no work of 
Dickens's is so crowded. Mr. Guppy is probably the most 
popular ; the Smallweeds are like a family of human ravens, a 
collection of Grips. The pathos of Charley and the little 
children dependent on her is devoid of the emphasis which 



xii INTRODUCTION. 

may be detected in Jo Jo for whom so many tears have 
been shed by readers, and spectators in the theatre. Mr. 
Snagsby's "putting a point on it" has won its way into 
popular proverb-lore. The " artless unconsciousness " of 
Esther has been censured, perhaps not unduly, by Mr. 
Forster. Much has been written on the possibility of Mr. 
Krook's spontaneous combustion. The incident was meant 
as a parable of the fate of Chancery, and had already been 
introduced to fiction by Captain Marryat. The veal question 
is, not whether spontaneous combustion is possible, but 
whether it is fit for introduction in a work of art. Mr. 
Bucket is probably one of the first in a long sequence of 
detective heroes; only persons familiar with detectives can 
say whether he represents them faithfully. The story is so 
complex, that certain groups, as of the Bagnets, do not hold 
the scattered and fatigued attention. This is a consequence 
of the length of the tale ; there cannot but be longueurs in 
a novel so long as The Neivcomes or Bleak House. The 
Dedlocks have been censured. They are drawn with hardness, 
and are caricatured, while caricature is wasted on other than 
low comedy. The element of truth, however, is sufficiently 
conspicuous, as in the similar group in Dombey. 

On the whole, to have combined such wealth of character, 
so many elements of tragedy, with a plot which stimulates a 
sustained curiosity, was an immense feat, and a novelty in the 
work of Dickens. We feel the sense of elaboration ; we know 
that the work has been hard and severely conscientious. 
The charm of Copperfield is absent, the high spirits of 
Pickwick can no longer be looked for ; but the book, if not so 
popular as these, is a masterpiece in Dickens's middle manner. 

ANDREW LANG. 



PREFACE. 



A CHANCERY Judge once had the kindness to inform me, as 
one of a company of some hundred and fifty men and women 
not labouring under any suspicions of lunacy, that the Court 
of Chancery, though the shining subject of much popular 
prejudice (at which point I thought the Judge's eye had a 
cast in my direction), was almost immaculate. There had 
been, he admitted, a trivial blemish or so in its rate of pro 
gress, but this was exaggerated, and had been entirely owing 
to the " parsimony of the public ; " which guilty public, it 
appeared, had been until lately bent in the most determined 
manner on by no means enlarging the number of Chancery 
Judges appointed I believe by Richard the Second, but any 
other King will do as well. 

This seemed to me too profound a joke to be inserted in 
the body of this book, or I should have restored it to Con 
versation Kenge or to Mr. Vholes, with one or other of whom 
I think it must have originated. In such mouths I might 
have coupled it with an apt quotation from one of SHAKSPEARE'S 
Sonnets : 

My nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand : 
Pity me then, and wish I were renew'd ! 



xiv PREFACE. 

But as it is wholesome that the parsimonious public should 
know what has been doing, and still is doing, in this con 
nexion, I mention here that everything set forth in these 
pages concerning the Court of Chancery is substantially true, 
and within the truth. The case of Gridley is in no essential 
altered from one of actual occurrence, made public by a dis 
interested person who was professionally acquainted with the 
whole of the monstrous wrong from beginning to end. At 
the present moment * there is a suit before the Court which 
was commenced nearly twenty years ago ; in which from 
thirty to forty counsel have been known to appear at one 
time ; in which costs have been incurred to the amount of 
seventy thousand pounds ; which is a friendly suit ; and which 
is (I am assured) no nearer to its termination now than when 
it was begun. There is another well-known suit in Chancery, 
not yet decided, which was commenced before the close of the 
last century, and in which more than double the amount of 
seventy thousand pounds has been swallowed up in costs. If 
I wanted other authorities for JARNDYCE AND JARNDYCE, I 
could rain them on these pages, to the shame of a parsi 
monious public. 

There is only one other point on which I offer a word of 
remark. The possibility of what is called Spontaneous Com 
bustion has been denied since the death of Mr. Krook ; and 
my good friend MR. LEWES (quite mistaken, as he soon 
found, in supposing the thing to have been abandoned by all 
authorities) published some ingenious letters to me at the time 
when that event was chronicled, arguing that Spontaneous 
Combustion could not possibly be. I have no need to observe 
that I do not wilfully or negligently mislead my readers, and 
that before I wrote that description I took pains to investigate 
* In August, 1853, 



PREFACE. xv 

the subject. There are about thirty cases on record, of 
which the most famous, that of the Countess Cornelia de Bandi 
Cesenate, was minutely investigated and described by Giuseppe 
Bian chini, a prebendary of Verona, otherwise distinguished in 
letters, who published an account of it at Verona, in 1731, 
which he afterwards republished at Rome. The appearances 
beyond all rational doubt observed in that case, are the ap 
pearances observed in Mr. Krook's case. The next most famous 
instance happened at Rheims, six years earlier; and the his 
torian in that case is LE CAT, one of the most renowned sur 
geons produced by France. The subject was a woman, whose 
husband was ignorantly convicted of having murdered her; 
but, on solemn appeal to a higher court, he was acquitted, 
because it was shown upon the evidence that she had died the 
death to which this name of Spontaneous Combustion is given. 
I do^not think it necessary to add to these notable facts, and 
that general reference to the authorities which will be found 
at page 31, vol. ii.,* the recorded opinions and experiences of 
distinguished medical professors, French, English, and Scotch, 
in more modern days ; contenting myself with observing, that 
I shall not abandon the facts until there shall have been a 
considerable Spontaneous Combustion of the testimony on 
which human occurrences are usually received. 

In Bleak House, I have purposely dwelt upon the romantic 
side of familiar things. 

* Another case, very clearly described by a dentist, occurred at the town of 
Columbus, in the United States of America, quite recently. The subject was 
a German, who kept a liquor-shop, and was an inveterate drunkard. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 



CHAPTER I. 

VAGE 

In Chancery . , . 1 



CHAPTER II. 
In Fashion . 9 

CHAPTER III. 
A Progress . . . 18 

CHAPTER IV. 
Telescopic Philanthropy 41 

CHAPTER V. 
A Morning Adventure 56 

CHAPTER VI. 
Quite at Home . . .73 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Ghost's Walk . 99 



XV111 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Covering a Multitude of Sins 



Signs and Tokens . 



The Law-writer 



CHAPTER IX. 



CHAPTER X. 



CHAPTER XI. 
Our Dear Brother 

CHAPTER XII. 
On the Watch ....'.. 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Esther's Narrative 



Deportment . 



Bell Yard 



CHAPTER XIV. 



CHAPTER XV. 



CHAPTER XVI. 
Tom-all-Alone's 

CHAPTER XVII. 

Esther's Narrative 



TAGE 

112 



136 



154 



. 167 



185 



202 



245 



2C4 



. 275 



CONTENTS. xix 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

PAGE 

Lady Dedlock - <v^: . 292 



CHAPTER XIX. 
Moving on . . 313 

CHAPTER XX. 
A New Lodger . . .''* ' ; ^ 330 

CHAPTER XXI. 

The Smallweed Family ..'<;.., 348 

CHAPTER XXII. 
Mr. Bucket 370 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

Esther's Narrative 386 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

An Appeal Case . 408 

CHAPTER XXV. 
Mrs. Snagsby sees it all 430 

CHAPTER XXVI. 

Sharpshooters 441 

?' 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

More Old Soldiers than One . . 457 



xx CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXVHI. 

PAGB 

The Ironmaster . .... 473 

CHAPTER XXIX. 
The Young Man . . . . 487 

CHAPTER XXX. 

Esther's Narrative . . . . ......'. 499 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
Nurse and Patient . 518 



LIST OF ILLUSTEATIONS. 

VOL. I. 



PAGE 

BLEAK HOUSE . . . . . . . Frontispiece 

THE LITTLE OLD LADY * . 40 

Miss JELLYBY . 52 

THE LORD CHANCELLOR COPIES FROM MEMORY .... 70 

COAVLNSES 92 

THE VISIT TO THE BRICKMAKER'S 130 

IN RE GUPPY. EXTRAORDINARY PROCEEDINGS . . . .150 

MR. GUPPY 's DESOLATION 208 

THE FAMILY PORTRAITS AT MR. BAYHAM BADGER'S . . . 212 

THE DANCING SCHOOL 230 

CONSECRATED GROUND . 272 

CADDY'S FLOWERS 290 

THE LITTLE CHURCH IN THE PARK 302 

MR. GUPPY'S ENTERTAINMENT 334 

THE SMALLWEED FAMILY 350 

A MODEL OP PARENTAL DEPORTMENT 398 

MR. CHADBAND "IMPROVING" A TOUGH SUBJECT . . . 434 

VISITORS TO THE SHOOTING GALLERY 448 

THE YOUNG MAN OF THE NAME OF GUPPY 490 

NURSE AND PATIENT 532 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



CHAPTER I. 

IN CHANCERY. 

LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chan 
cellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November 
weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had 
but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would 
not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or 
so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. 
Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft 
black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown 
snow-flakes gone into mourning, one might imagine, for 
the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. 
Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. 
Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas, in a 
general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold 
at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot 
passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day 
broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the 
crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously 
to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest. 

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among 
green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls 
defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollu 
tions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, 

VOL. i. B 



2 BLEAK HOUSE. 

fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses 
of collier-brigs ; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in 
the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales 
of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of 
ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of 
their wards ; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe 
of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin ; fog cruelly 
pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice 
boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the 
parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as 
if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds. 

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, 
much as the sun may, from the spongy fields, be seen to 
loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops 
lighted two hours before their time as the gas seems to 
know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look. 

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, 
and the muddy streets are muddiest, near that leaden-headed 
old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a 
leaden-headed old corporation : Temple Bar. And hard by 
Temple Bar, in Lincoln's Inn Hall, at the very heart of the 
fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of 
Chancery. 

Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come 
mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and 
floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, 
most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds, this day, in the sight 
of heaven and earth. 

On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor 
ought to be sitting here as here he is with a foggy glory 
round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and 
curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, 
a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly 
directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where 
he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon, some 
score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought 



THE HIGH COURT OF CHANCERY. 3 

to be as here they are mistily engaged in one of the ten 
thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up 
on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, 
running their goat-hair and horse-hair warded heads against 
walls of words, and making a pretence of equity with serious 
faces, as players might. On such an afternoon, the various 
solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have 
inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, 
ought to be as are they not? ranged in a line, in a long 
matted well (but you might look in vain for Truth at the 
bottom of it), between the registrar's red table and the silk 
gowns, with bills, cross-bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, 
affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters' reports, moun 
tains of costly nonsense, piled before them. Well may the 
court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may 
the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out ; well 
may the stained glass windows lose their colour, and admit no 
light of day into the place ; well may the uninitiated from 
the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in the door, 
be deterred from entrance by its owlish aspect, and by the 
drawl languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais 
where the Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that 
has no light in it, and where the attendant wigs are all 
stuck in a fog-bank ! This is the Court of Chancery ; which 
has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire ; 
which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse, and its 
dead in every churchyard; which has its ruined suitor, with 
his slipshod heels and threadbare dress, borrowing and 
begging through the round of every man's acquaintance ; 
which gives to monied might, the means abundantly of 
wearying out the right; which so exhausts finances, patience, 
courage, hope ; so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart ; 
that there is not an honourable man among its practitioners 
who would not give who does not often give the warning, 
"Suffer any wrong that can be done you, rather than come 
here!" 



4 BLEAK HOUSE, 

Who happen to be in the Lord Chancellor's court this 
murky afternoon besides the Lord Chancellor, the counsel in 
the cause, two or three counsel who are never in any cause, 
and the well of solicitors before mentioned? There is the 
registrar below the Judge, in wig and gown; and there are 
two or three maces, or petty-bags, or privy purses, or what 
ever they may be, in legal court suits. These are all 
yawning; for no crumb of amusement ever falls from 
JARXDYCE AND JARNDYCE (the cause in hand), which was 
squeezed dry years upon years ago. The short-hand writers, 
the reporters of the court, and the reporters of the news 
papers, invariably decamp with the rest of the regulars when 
Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes on. Their places are a blank. 
Standing on a seat at the side of the hall, the better to peer 
into the curtained sanctuary, is a little mad old woman in 
a squeezed bonnet, who is always in court, from its sitting 
to its rising, and always expecting some incomprehensible 
judgment to be given in her favour. Some say she really 
is, or was, a party to a suit; but no one knows for certain, 
because no one cares. She carries some small litter in a 
reticule which she calls her documents ; principally consisting 
of paper matches and dry lavender. A sallow prisoner has 
come up, in custody, for the half-dozenth time, to make a 
personal application "to purge himself of his contempt;"' 
which, being a solitary surviving executor who has fallen 
into a state of conglomeration about accounts of which it is 
not pretended that he had ever any knowledge, he is not at 
all likely ever to do. In the meantime his prospects in life 
are ended. Another ruined suitor, who periodically appears 
from Shropshire, and breaks out into efforts to address the 
Chancellor at the close of the day's business, and who can 
by no means be made to understand that the Chancellor is 
legally ignorant of his existence after making it desolate for 
a quarter of a century, plants himself in a good place and 
keeps an eye on the Judge, ready to call out " My Lord ! " 
in a voice of sonorous complaint, on the instant of his rising. 



JARNDYCE AND JARNDYCE. 5 

liis A few lawyers' clerks and others who know this suitor by 
sight, linger, on the chance of his furnishing some fun, and 
enlivening the dismal weather a little. 

Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a 
suit has, in course of time, become so complicated, that no 
man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand 
it least; but it has been observed that no two Chancery 
lawyers can talk about it for five minutes, without coming 
to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable 
children have been born into the cause; innumerable young 
people have married into it; innumerable old people have 
died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found 
themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, without 
knowing how or why ; whole families have inherited legendary 
hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant, who 
was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce 
should be settled, has grown up, possessed himself of a real 
horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards 
of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers ; a long 
procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the 
legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere 
bills of mortality ; there are not three Jarndyces left upon 
the earth perhaps, since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew 
his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but 
Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before 
the Court, perennially hopeless, 

Jarndyce and Jarndyce has passed into a joke. That is 
the only good that has ever come of it. It has been death 
to many, but it is a joke in the profession. Every master 
in Chancery has had a reference out of it. Every Chancellor 
was "in it," for somebody or other, when he was counsel at 
the bar. Good things have been said about it by blue- 
nosed, bulbous-shoed old benchers, in select port- wine com 
mittee after dinner in hall. Articled clerks have been in 
the habit of fleshing their legal wit upon it. The last Lord 
Chancellor handled it neatly, when, correcting Mr. Blowers 



6 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the eminent silk gown who said that such a thing might 
happen when the sky rained potatoes, he observed, " or when 
we get through Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mr. Blowers;' 1 a 
pleasantry that particularly tickled the maces, bags, and 
purses. 

How many people out of the suit, Jarndyce and Jarndyce 
has stretched forth its unwholesome hand to spoil and corrupt, 
would be a very wide question. From the master, upon whose 
impaling files reams of dusty warrants in Jarndyce and 
Jarndyce have grimly writhed into many shapes; down to 
the copying-clerk in the Six Clerks' Office, who has copied 
his tens of thousands of Chancery-folio-pages under that 
eternal heading; no man's nature has been made better by 
it. In trickery, evasion, procrastination, spoliation, bothera 
tion, under false pretences of all sorts, there are influences 
that can never come to good. The very solicitors' boys who 
have kept the wretched suitors at bay, by protesting time 
out of mind that Mr. Chizzle, Mizzle, or otherwise, was 
particularly engaged and had appointments until dinner, 
may have got an extra moral twist and shuffle into themselves 
out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The receiver in the cause 
has acquired a goodly sum of money by it, but has acquired 
too a distrust of his own mother, and a contempt for his 
own kind. Chizzle, Mizzle, and otherwise, have lapsed into 
a habit of vaguely promising themselves that they will look 
into that outstanding little matter, and see what can be 
done for Drizzle who was not well used when Jarndyce 
and Jarndyce shall be got out of the office. Shirking and 
sharking, in all their many varieties, have been sown broad 
cast by the ill-fated cause; and even those who have con 
templated its history from the outermost circle of such evil, 
have been insensibly tempted into a loose way of letting bad 
things alone to take their own bad course, and a loose belief 
that if the world go wrong, it was, in some off-hand manner, 
x never meant to go right. 

Thus, in the midst of the mud and at the heart of the 



THE LORD CHANCELLOR AND MR. TANGLE. 7 

fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of 
Chancery. 

" Mr. Tangle," says the Lord High Chancellor, latterly 
something restless under the eloquence of that learned 
gentleman. 

"Mlud," says Mr. Tangle. Mr. Tangle knows more of 
I Jarndyce and Jarndyce ffian anybody. He is famous for it 
supposed never to have read anything else since he left school. 

" Have you nearly concluded your argument ? " 

"Mlud, no variety of points feel it my duty tsubmit 
ludship," is the reply that slides out of Mr. Tangle. 

"Several members of the bar are still to be heard, I 
believe?" says the Chancellor, with a slight smile. 

Eighteen of Mr. Tangled learned friends, each armed with 
a little summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like 
eighteen hammers in a pianoforte, make eighteen bows, and 
drop into their eighteen places of obscurity. 

"We will proceed with the hearing on Wednesday fort 
night," says the Chancellor. For, the question at issue is 
only a question of costs, a mere bud on the forest tree of 
the parent suit, and really will come to a settlement one 
of these days. 

The Chancellor rises ; the bar rises ; the prisoner is brought 
forward in a hurry ; the man from Shropshire cries, " My 
lord ! " Maces, bags, and purses, indignantly proclaim silence, 
and frown at the man from Shropshire. 

"In reference," proceeds the Chancellor, still on Jarndyce 
and Jarndyce, "to the young girl " 

" Begludship's pardon boy," says Mr. Tangle, prematurely. 

"In reference," proceeds the Chancellor, with extra dis 
tinctness, " to the young girl and boy, the two young people," 

(Mr. Tangle crushed.) 

"Whom I directed to be in attendance to-day, and who 
are now in my private room, I will see them and satisfy 
myself as to the expediency of making the order for their 
residing with their uncle.'" 



8 BLEAK HOUSE. 

. Mr. Tangle on his legs again. 

" Begludship^s pardon dead." 

" With their," Chancellor looking through his double eye 
glass at the papers on his desk, " grandfather." 

" Begludship's pardon victim of rash action brains." 

Suddenly a very little counsel, with a terrific bass voice, 
arises, fully inflated, in the back settlements of the fog, and 
says, "Will your lordship allow me? I appear for him. 
He is a cousin, several times removed. I am not at the 
moment prepared to inform the Court in what exact remove 
he is a cousin ; but he is a cousin." 

Leaving this address (delivered like a sepulchral message) 
ringing in the rafters of the roof, the very little counsel 
drops, and the fog knows him no more. Everybody looks 
for him. Nobody can see him. 

"I will speak with both the young people," says the 
Chancellor anew, "and satisfy myself on the subject of their 
residing with their cousin. I will mention the matter to 
morrow morning when I take my seat." 

The Chancellor is about to bow to the bar, when the 
prisoner is presented. Nothing can possibly come of the 
prisoner's conglomeration, but his being sent back to prison ; 
which is soon done. The man from Shropshire ventures 
another demonstrative " My lord ! " but the Chancellor, being 
aware of him, has dexterously vanished. Everybody else 
quickly vanishes too. A battery of blue bags is loaded with 
heavy charges of papers and carried off* by clerks ; the little 
mad old woman marches off with her documents ; the empty 
court is locked up. If all the injustice it has committed, 
and all the misery it has caused, could only be locked up 
with it, and the whole burnt away in a great funeral pyre, 
why so much the better for other parties than the parties in 
Jarndyce and Jarndyce ! 



CHAPTER II. 

IX FASHION. 

IT is but a glimpse of the world of fashion that we want on 
this same miry afternoon. It is not so unlike the Court of 
Chancery, but that we may pass from the one scene to the 
other, as the crow flies. Both the world of fashion and the 
Court of Chancery are things of precedent and usage; over 
sleeping Rip Van Winkles, who have played at strange games 
through a deal of thundery weather ; sleeping beauties, whom 
the Knight will wake one day, when all the stopped spits in 
the kitchen shall begin to turn prodigiously ! 

It is not a large world. Relatively even to this world of 
ours, which has its limits too (as your Highness shall find 
when you have made the tour of it, and are come to the 
brink of the void beyond), it is a very little speck. There 
is much good in it ; there are many good and true people in 
it ; it has its appointed place. But the evil of it is, that it 
is a world wrapped up in too much jeweller's cotton and fine 
wool, and cannot hear the rushing of the larger worlds, and 
cannot see them as they circle round the sun. It is a 
deadened world, and its growth is sometimes unhealthy for 
want of air. 

My Lady Dedlpck has returned to her house in town for 
a few days previous to her departure for Paris, where her 
ladyship intends to stay some weeks; after which her move 
ments are uncertain. The fashionable intelligence says so, 
for the comfort of the Parisians, and it knows all fashionable 



10 BLEAK HOUSE. 

things. To know things otherwise, were to be unfashionable. 
My Lady Dedlock has been down at what she calls, in 
familiar conversation, her "place" in Lincolnshire. The 
waters are out in Lincolnshire. An arch of the bridge in 
the park has been sapped and sopped away. The adjacent 
low-lying ground, for half a mile in breadth, is a stagnant 
river, with melancholy trees for islands in it, and a surface 
punctured all over, all day long, with falling rain. My Lady 
I3ed lock's "place* has been extremely dreary. The weather, 
for many a day and night, has been so wet that the trees 
seem wet through, and the soft loppings and prunings of the 
woodman's axe can make no crash or crackle as they fall. 
The deer, looking soaked, leave quagmires, where they pass. 
The shot of a rifle loses its sharpness in the moist air, and 
its smoke moves in a tardy little cloud towards the green 
rise, coppice-topped, that makes a background for the falling 
rain. The view from my Lady Dedlock's own windows is 
alternately a lead-coloured view, and a view in Indian ink. 
The vases on the stone terrace in the foreground catch the 
rain all day ; and the heavy drops fall, drip, drip, drip, 
upon the broad flagged pavement, called, from old time, the 
Ghost's Walk, all night. On Sundays, the little church in 
the park is mouldy ; the oaken pulpit breaks out into a cold 
sweat; and there is a general smell and taste as of the 
ancient Dedlocks in their graves. My Lady Dedlock (who is 
childless), looking out in the early twilight from her boudoir 
at a keeper's lodge, and seeing the light of a fire upon the 
latticed panes, and smoke rising from the chimney, and a 
child, chased by a woman, running out into the rain to meet 
the shining figure of a wrapped-up man coming through the 
gate, has been put quite out of temper. My Lady Dedlock 
says she has been "bored to death.* 

Therefore my Lady Dedlock has come away from the place 
in Lincolnshire, and has left it to the rain, and the crows, 
and the rabbits, and the deer, and the partridges and 
pheasants. The pictures of the Dedlocks past and gone have 



SIR LEICESTER DEBLOCK. 11 

seemed to vanish into the damp walls in mere lowness of 
spirits, as the housekeeper has passed along the old rooms, 
shutting up the shutters. And when they will next come 
forth again, the fashionable intelligence which, like the 
fiend, is omniscient of the past and present, but not the 
future cannot yet undertake to say. 

Sir Leicester Dedlock is only a baronet, but there is no 
mightier baronet than he. His family is as old as the hills, 
^ and infinitely more respectable. He has a general opinion 
that the world might get on without hills, but would be 
done up without Dedlocks. He would on the whole admit 
Nature to be a good idea (a little low, perhaps, when not 
enclosed with a park-fence), but an idea dependent for its 
execution on your great county families. He is a gentleman 
of strict conscience, disdainful of all littleness and mean 
ness, and ready, on the shortest notice, to die any death 
you may please to mention rather than give occasion for 
the least impeachment of his integrity. He is an honour 
able, obstinate, truthful, high-spirited, intensely prejudiced, 
perfectly unreasonable man. 

Sir Leicester is twenty years, full measure, older than my 
Lady. He will never see sixty-five again, nor perhaps sixty- 
six, nor yet sixty-seven. He has a twist of the gout now 
and then, and walks a little stiffly. He is of a worthy 
presence, with his light grey hair and whiskers, his fine shirt- 
frill, his pure white waistcoat, and his blue coat with bright 
buttons always buttoned. He is ceremonious, stately, most 
polite on every occasion to my Lady, and holds her personal 
attractions in the highest estimation. His gallantry to my 
Lady, which has never changed since he courted her, is the 
one little touch of romantic fancy in him. 

Indeed, he married her for love. A whisper still goes 
about, that she had not even family; howbeit, Sir Leicester 
had so much family that perhaps he had enough, and could 
dispense with any more. But she had beauty, pride, ambition, 
insolent resolve, and sense enough to portion out a legion of 



12 BLEAK HOUSE. 

line ladies. Wealth and station, added to these, soon floated 
her upward ; and for years, now, my Lady Dedlock has been 
at the centre of the fashionable intelligence, and at the top 
of the fashionable tree. 

How Alexander wept when he had no more worlds to 
conquer, everybody knows or has some reason to know by 
this time, the matter having been rather frequently mentioned. 
My Lady Dedlock, having conquered her world, fell, not into 
the melting, but rather into the freezing mood. An exhausted 
composure, a worn-out placidity, an equanimity of fatigue 
not to be ruffled by interest or satisfaction, are the trophies 
of her victory. She is perfectly well-bred. If she could be 
translated to Heaven to-morrow, she might be expected to 
ascend without any rapture. 

She has beauty still, and, if it be not in its heyday, it is 
not yet in its autumn. She has a fine face originally of 
a character that would be rather called very pretty than 
handsome, but improved into classicality by the acquired 
expression of her fashionable state. Her figure is elegant, 
and has the effect of being tall. Not that she is so, but that 
" the most is made,*" as the Honourable Bob Stables has 
frequently asserted upon oath, "of all her points." The 
same authority observes, that she is perfectly got up; and 
remarks, in commendation of her hair especially, that she 
is the best-groomed woman in the whole stud. 

With all her perfections on her head, my Lady Dedlock 
has come up from her place in Lincolnshire (hotly pursued 
by the fashionable intelligence), to pass a few days at her 
house in town previous to her departure for Paris, where her 
ladyship intends to stay some weeks, after which her move 
ments are uncertain. And at her house in town, upon this 
muddy, murky afternoon, presents himself an old-fashioned 
old gentleman, attorney-at-law, and eke solicitor of the 
High Court of Chancery, who has the honour of acting as 
legal adviser of the Dedlocks, and has as many cast-iron 
boxes in his office with that name outside, as if the present 



MR. TULKINGHORN. 13 

baronet were the coin of the conjurer's trick, and were 
constantly being juggled through the whole set. Across the 
hall, and up the stairs, and along the passages, and through 
the rooms, which are very brilliant in the season and very 
dismal out of it Fairy-land to visit, but a desert to live in 
the old gentleman is conducted, by a Mercury in powder, 
to my Lady's presence. 

The old gentleman is rusty to look at, but is reputed to 
have made good thrift out of aristocratic marriage settlements 
and aristocratic wills, and to be very rich. He is surrounded 
by a mysterious halo of family confidences ; of which he 
is known to be the silent depository. There are noble 
Mausoleums rooted for centuries in retired glades of parks, 
among the growing timber and the fern, which perhaps hold 
fewer noble secrets than walk abroad among men, shut up in 
the breast of Mr, Tulkinghorn. He is of what is called the 
old school a phrase generally meaning any school that seems 
never to have been young and wears knee breeches tied with 
ribbons, and gaiters or stockings. One peculiarity of his 
black clothes, and of his black stockings, be they silk or 
worsted, is, that they never shine. Mute, close, irresponsive 
to any glancing light, his dress is like himself. He never 
converses, when not professionally consulted. He is found 
sometimes, speechless but quite at home, at corners of dinner- 
tables in great country houses, and near doors of drawing- 
rooms, concerning which the fashionable intelligence is 
eloquent : where everybody knows him, and where half the 
Peerage stops to say " How do you do, Mr. Tulkinghorn ? " 
he receives these salutations with gravity, and buries them 
along with the rest of his knowledge. 

Sir Leicester Dedlock is with my Lady, and is happy to 
see Mr. Tulkinghorn. There is an air of prescription about 
him which is always agreeable to Sir Leicester ; he receives 
it as a kind of tribute. He likes Mr. Tulkinghorn's dress ; 
there is a kind of tribute in that too. It is eminently 
respectable, and likewise, in a general way, retainer-like. It 



14 BLEAK HOUSE. 

expresses, as it were, the steward of the legal mysteries, the 
butler of the legal cellar j of the Ded locks. 

Has Mr. Tulkinghorn any idea of this himself ? It may be 
so, or it may not ; but there is this remarkable circumstance 
to be noted in everything associated with my Lady Dedlock 
as one of a class as one of the leaders and representatives 
of her little world. She supposes herself to be an inscrutable 
Being, quite out of the reach and ken of ordinary mortals 
seeing herself in her glass, where indeed shejojaks^so. Yet, 
every dim little star revolving about her, from her maid to 
the manager of the Italian Opera, knows her weaknesses, 
prejudices, follies, haughtinesses, and caprices ; and lives upon 
as accurate a calculation and as nice a measure of her moral 
nature, as her dressmaker takes of her physical proportions. 
Is a new dress, a new custom, a new singer, a new dancer, a 
new form of jewellery, a new dwarf or giant, a new chapel, 
a new anything, to be set up ? There are deferential 
people, in a dozen callings, whom my Lady Dedlock suspects 
of nothing but prostration before her, who can tell you how 
to manage her as if she were a baby ; who do nothing but 
nurse her all their lives ; who, humbly affecting to follow 
. with profound subservience, lead her and her whole troop 
after them ; who, in hooking one, hook all and bear them off', 
as Lemuel Gulliver bore away the stately fleet of the majestic 
Lilliput. " If you want to address our people, sir," say Blaze 
and Sparkle the jewellers meaning by our people, Lady 
Dedlock and the rest "you must remember that you are 
not dealing with the general public ; you must hit our people 
in their weakest place, and their weakest place is such a place." 
'To make this article go down, gentlemen," say Sheen and 
Gloss the mercers, to their friends the manufacturers, "you 
must come to us, because we know where to have the 
fashionable people, and we can make it fashionable." "If 
you want to get this print upon the tables of my high 
connexion, sir," says Mr. Sladdery the librarian, "or if 
you want to get this dwarf or giant into the houses 






A CONSTITUTIONAL KIND OF THING. 15 

of my high connexion, sir, or if- you want to secure 
to this entertainment, the patronage of my high con 
nexion, sir, you must leave it, if you please, to me ; for I 
have been accustomed to study the leaders of my high 
connexion, sir; and I may tell you, without vanity, that I 
can turn them round my finger," in which Mr. Sladdery, 
who is an honest man, does not exaggerate at all. 

Therefore, while Mr. Tulkinghorn may not know what is 
passing in the Dedlock mind at present, it is very possible 
that he may. 

" My Lady's cause has been again before the Chancellor, 
has it, Mr. Tulkinghorn ? " says Sir Leicester, giving him his 
hand. 

" Yes. It has been on again to-day," Mr. Tulkinghorn 
replies ; making one of his quiet bows to my Lady who is 
on a sofa near the fire, shading her face with a hand-screen. 

" It would be useless to ask," says my Lady, with the 
dreariness of the place in Lincolnshire still upon her, 
u whether anything has been done." 

" Nothing that you would call anything, has been done 
to-day," replies Mr. Tulkinghorn. 

" Nor ever will be," says my Lady. 

Sir Leicester has no objection to an interminable Chancery 
suit. It is a slow, expensive, British, constitutional kind of 
thing. To be sure, he has not a vital interest in the suit in 
question, her part in which was the only property my Lady \ 
brought him ; and he has a shadowy impression that for his 
name the name of Dedlock to be in a cause, and not in 
the title of that cause, is a most ridiculous accident. But 
he regards the Court of Chancery, even if it should involve 
an occasional delay of justice and a trifling amount of 
confusion, as a something, devised in conjunction with a 
variety of other somethings, by the perfection of human 
wisdom, for the eternal settlement (humanly speaking) of 
everything. And he is upon the whole of a fixed opinion, 
that to give the sanction of his countenance to any complaints 



16 BLEAK HOUSE. 

respecting it, would be to encourage some person in the lower 
classes to rise up somewhere like Wat Tyler. 

"As a few fresh affidavits have been put upon the file," 
says Mr. Tulkinghorn, " and as they are short, and as I 
proceed upon the troublesome principle of begging leave to 
possess my clients with any new proceedings in a cause ; " 
cautious man Mr. Tulkinghorn, taking no more responsibility 
than necessary; "and further, as I see you are going to 
Paris ; I have brought them in my pocket."" 

(Sir Leicester was going to Paris too, by-the-bye, but the 
delight of the fashionable intelligence was in his Lady.) 

Mr. Tulkinghorn takes out his papers, asks permission to 
place them on a golden talisman of a table at my Lady's 
elbow, puts ou his spectacles, and begins to read by the light 
of a shaded lamp. 

" ' In Chancery. Between John Jarndyce ' " 

My Lady interrupts, requesting him to miss as many of 
the formal horrors as he can. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn glances over his. spectacles, and begins 
again lower down. My Lady carelessly and scornfully 
abstracts her attention. Sir Leicester in a great chair looks 
at the fire, and appears to have a stately liking for the legal 
repetitions and prolixities, as ranging among the national 
bulwarks. It happens that the fire is hot, where my Lady 
sits; and that the hand-screen is more beautiful than useful, 
being priceless but small. My Lady, changing her position, 
sees the papers on the table looks at them nearer looks at 
them nearer still asks impulsively : 

"AVho copied that? 1 ' 

Mr. Tulkinghorn stops short, surprised by my Lady's 
animation and her unusual tone. 

"Is it what you people call law-hand? 1 ' she asks, looking full 
at him in her careless way again, and toying with her screen. - - 

'Not quite. Probably "Mr. Tulkinghorn examines it as 
he speaks "the legal character which it has, was acquired 
after the original hand was formed. Why do you ask?" 



LADY DEBLOCK BORED TO DEATH. 17 

"Anything to vary this detestable monotony, O, go 
on, do!" 

Mr. Tulkinghorn reads again. The heat is greater, my 
Lady screens her face. Sir Leicester dozes, starts up suddenly, 
and cries " Eh ? what do you say ? " 

"I say I am afraid, 11 says Mr. Tulkinghorn, who had risen 
hastily, " that Lady Dedlock is ill. 11 

"Faint, 11 my Lady murmurs, with white lips, "only that; 
but it is like the faintness of death. Don't speak to me. 
Ring, and take me to my room ! " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn retires into another chamber ; bells ring, 
feet shuffle and patter, silence ensues. Mercury at last begs 
Mr. Tulkinghorn to return. 

"Better now, 11 quoth Sir Leicester, motioning the lawyer 
to sit down and read to him alone. "I have been quite 
alarmed. I never knew my Lady swoon before. But the 
weather is extremely trying and she really .has been bored 
to death down at our place in Lincolnshire. 11 



YOL. i. 



CHAPTER III. 

A PROGRESS. 

I HAVE a great deal of difficulty in beginning to write my 
portion of these pages, for I know I am not clever. I alway 
knew that. I can remember, when I was a very little gir 
indeed, I used to say to my doll, when we were alone 
together, " Now, Dolly, I am not clever, you know very well, 
and you must be patient with me, like a dear!" And so 
she used to sit propped up in a great arm-chair, with her 
beautiful complexion and rosy lips, staring at me or not so 
much at me, I think, as at nothing while I busily stitched 
away, and told her every one of my secrets. 

My dear old doll ! I was such a shy little thing that I 
seldom dared to open my lips, and never dared to open my 
heart, to anybody else. It almost makes me cry to think 
what a relief it used to be to me, when I came home from 
school of a day, to run up-stairs to my room, and say, " O 
you dear faithful Dolly, I knew you would be expecting me ! " 
and then to sit down on the floor, leaning on the elbow of 
her great chair, and tell her all I had noticed since we 
parted. I had always rather a noticing way not a quick 
way, O no ! a silent way of noticing what passed before 
me, and thinking I should like to understand it better. I 
have not by any means a quick understanding. When I 
love a person very tenderly indeed, it seems to brighten. 
But even that may be my vanity. 

I was brought up, from my earliest remembrance like 






ESTHER'S CHILDHOOD. 19 



some of the princesses in the fairy stories, only I was not 
charming by my godmother. At least I only knew her as 
such. She was a good, good woman ! She went to church 
three times every Sunday, and to morning prayers on 
Wednesdays and Fridays, and to lectures whenever there 
were lectures; and never missed. She was handsome; and 
if she had ever smiled, would have been (I used to think) 
like an angel but she never smiled. She was always grave, 
and strict. She was so very good herself, I thought, that 
the badness of other people made her frown all her life. I 
felt so different from her, even making every allowance for 
the differences between a child and a woman ; I felt so poor, 
so trifling, and so far off; that I never could be unrestrained 
with her no, could never even love her as I wished. It 
made me very sorry to consider how good she was, and how 
unworthy of her I was; and I used ardently to hope that I 
might have a better heart; and I talked it over very often 
with the dear old doll ; but I never loved my godmother as 
I ought to have loved her, and as I felt I must have loved 
her if I had been a better girl. 

This made me, I dare say, more timid and retiring than I 
naturally was, and cast me upon Dolly as the only friend 
with whom I felt at ease. But something happened when I 
was still quite a little thing, that helped it very much. 

I had never heard my mama spoken of. I had never 
heard of my papa either, but I felt more interested about 
my mama. I had never worn a black frock, that I could 
recollect. I had never been shown my mama's grave. I had 
never been told where it was. Yet I had never been taught 
to pray for any relation but my godmother. I had more 
than once approached this subject of my thoughts with Mrs. 
Rachael, our only servant, who took my light away when I 
was in bed (another very good woman, but austere to me), 
and she had only said, " Esther, good night ! " and gone 
away and left me. 

Although there were seven girls at the neighbouring school 






o BLEAK HOUSE. 

where I was a day boarder, and although they called me 
little Esther Surnmerson, I knew none of them at home.' 
All ofTEein were older than I, to be sure (I was the 
youngest there by a good deal), but there seemed to be 
some other separation between us besides that, and besides 
their being far more clever than I was, and knowing much , 
more than I did. One of them, in the first week of my, 
going to the school (I remember it very well), invited me 
home to a little party, to my great joy. But my godmother 
wrote a stiff letter declining for me, and I never went. I 
never went out at all. 

It was my birthday. There were holidays at school on 
other birthdays none on mine. There were rejoicings at 
home on other birthdays, as I knew from what I heard the 
girls relate to one another there were none on mine. My 
birthday was the most melancholy day at home, in the whole 
year. 

I have mentioned, that, unless my vanity should deceive 
me (as I know it may, for I may be very vain, without sus- j 
pecting it though indeed I don't), my comprehension is 
quickened when my affection is. My disposition is very 
affectionate ; and perhaps I might still feel such a wound, if 
such a wound could be received more than once, with the 
quickness of that birthday. 

Dinner was over, and my godmother and I were sitting at 
the table before the fire. The clock ticked, the fire clicked ; 
not another sound had been heard in the room, or in the 
house, for I don't know how long. I happened to look 
timidly up from my stitching, across the table, at my god 
mother, and I saw in her face, looking gloomily at me, "It 
would have been far better, little Esther, that you had had 
no birthday ; that you had never been born ! " 

I broke out crying and sobbing, and I said "O, dear 
godmother, tell me, pray do tell me, did mama die on my 
birthday? 1 ' 

" No," she returned. Ask me no more, child ! " 



DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CHILDREN. 21 

" O, do pray tell me something of her. Do now, at last, 
dear godmother, if you please! What did I do to her? 
How did I lose her ? Why am I so different from other 
children, and why is it my fault, dear godmother ? No, no, 
no, don't go away. O, speak to me ! " 

I was in a kind of fright beyond my grief; and I caught 
hold of her dress, and was kneeling to her. She had been 
saying all the while, " Let me go ! " But now she stood 
still. 

Her darkened face had such power over me, that it stopped 
me in the midst of my vehemence. I put up my trembling 
little hand to clasp hers, or to beg her pardon with what 
earnestness I might, but withdrew it as she looked at me, 
and laid it on my fluttering heart. She raised me, sat in 
her chair, and standing me before her, said, slowly, in a cold, 
low voice I see her knitted brow, and pointed finger : 

"Your mother, Esther, is your disgrace, and you were 
hers. The time will come and soon enough when you 
will understand this better, and will feel it too, as no one 
save a woman can. I have forgiven her;" but her face did 
not relent; "the wrong she did to me, and I say no more 
of it, though it was greater than you will ever know than 
any one will ever know, but I, the sufferer. For yourself, 
unfortunate girl, orphaned and degraded from the first of 
these evil anniversaries, pray daily that the sins of others 
be not visited upon your head, according to what is written. 
Forget your mother, and leave all other people to forget her 
who will do her unhappy child that greatest kindness. 
Now, go ! " 

She checked me, however, as I was about to depart from 
her so frozen as I was ! and added this : 

" Submission, self-denial, diligent work, are the preparations 
for a life begun with such a shadow on it. You are different 
from other children, Esther, because you were not born, 
like them, in common sinfulness and wrath. You are set 
apart." 



22 BLEAK HOUSE. 

I went up to my room, and crept to bed, and laid my 
doll's cheek against mine wet with tears; and holding that 
solitary friend upon my bosom, cried myself to sleep. Im 
perfect as my understanding of my sorrow was, I knew that 
I had brought no joy, at any time, to anybody's heart, and 
that I was to no one upon earth what Dolly was to me. 

Dear, dear, to think how much time we passed alone 
together afterwards, and how often I repeated to the doll 
the story of my birthday, and confided to her that I would 
try, as hard as ever I could, to repair the fault I had been 
born with (of which I confessedly felt guilty and yet innocent), 
and would strive as I grew up to be industrious, contented, 
and kind-hearted, and to do some good to some one, and 
win some love to myself if I could. I hope it is not self- 
indulgent to shed these tears as I think of it. I am very 
thankful, I am very cheerful, but I cannot quite help their 
coming to my eyes. 

There ! I have wiped them away now, and can go on 
again properly. 

I felt the distance between my godmother and myself so 
much more after the birthday, and felt so sensible of filling 
a place in her house which ought to have been empty, that 
I found her more difficult of approach, though I was fervently 
grateful to her in my heart, than ever. I felt in the same 
way towards my school companions; I felt in the same way 
towards Mrs. Rachael, who was a widow; and O, towards her 
daughter, of whom she was proud, who came to see her once 
a fortnight ! I was very retired and quiet, and tried to be 
very diligent. 

One sunny afternoon, when I had come home from school 
with my books and portfolio, watching my long shadow at 
my side, and as I was gliding up-stairs to my room as usual, 
my godmother looked out of the parlour-door, and called me 
back. Sitting with her, I found which was very unusual 
indeed a stranger. A portly important-looking gentleman, 
dressed all in black, with a white cravat, large gold watch 



ONE DREADFUL NIGHT. 23 

seals, a pair of gold eye-glasses, and a large seal-ring upon 
his little finger. 

"This," said my godmother in an under-tone, "is the 
child." Then she said, in her naturally stern way of speak 
ing, " This is Esther, sir." 

The gentleman put up his eye-glasses to look at me, and 
said, " Come here, my dear ! " He shook hands with me, 
and asked me to take off my bonnet looking at me all 
the while. When I had complied, he said, " Ah ! " and 
afterwards " Yes ! " And then, taking off* his eye-glasses, 
and folding them in a red case, and leaning back in his 
arm-chair, turning the case about in his two hands he gave 
my godmother a nod. Upon that, my godmother said, 
" You may go up-stairs, Esther ! " and I made him my 
curtsey and left him. 

It must have been two years afterwards, and I was almost 
fourteen, when one dreadful night my godmother and I sat 
at the fireside. I was reading aloud, and she was listening. 
I had come down at nine o^clock, as I always did, to read 
the Bible to her ; and was reading, from St. John, how our 
Saviour stooped down, writing with his finger in the dust, 
when they brought the sinful woman to him. 

" ' So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself 
and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let 
him first cast a stone at her ! ' T 

I was stopped by my godmother's rising, putting her hand 
to her head, and crying out, in an awful voice, from quite 
another part of the book : 

44 ' Watch ye therefore ! lest coming suddenly he find you 
sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, 
Watch! 1 " 

In an instant, while she stood before me repeating these 
words, she fell down on the floor. I had no need to cry 
out ; her voice had sounded through the house, and been 
heard in the street. 

She was laid upon her bed. For more than a week she 






24 BLEAK HOUSE. 

lay there, little altered outwardly; with her old handsome 
resolute frown that I so well knew, carved upon her face. 
Many and many a time, in the day and in the night, wi1 
my head upon the pillow by her that my whispers might " 
plainer to her, I kissed her, thanked her, prayed for her, 
asked her for her blessing and forgiveness, entreated her to 
give me the least sign that she knew or heard me. No, no, 
no. Her face was immoveable. To the very last, and even 
afterwards, her frown remained unsoftened. 

On the day after my poor good godmother was buried, 
the gentleman in black with the white neckcloth reappeared. 
I was sent for by Mrs. Rachael, and found him in the same 
place, as if he had never gone away. 

" My name is Kenge," he said ; " you may remember it, 
my child; Kenge and Carboy, Lincoln's Inn.*" 

I replied that I remembered to have seen him once before. 

" Pray be seated here near me. Don't distress yourself ; 
it's of no use. Mrs. Rachael, I needn't inform you who were 
acquainted with the late Miss Barbary's affairs, that her 
means die with her ; and that this young lady, now her 
aunt is dead " 

" My aunt, sir ! " 

" It is really of no use carrying on a deception when no 
object is to be gained by it," said Mr. Kenge, smoothly. 
"Aunt in fact, though not in law. Don't distress yourself! 
Don't weep ! Don't tremble ! Mrs. Rachael, our young friend 
has no doubt heard of the a Jarndyce and Jarndyce." 

" Never," said Mrs. Rachael. 

"Is it possible," pursued Mr. Kenge, putting up his eye 
glasses, "that our young friend I beg you won't distress 
yourself ! never heard of Jarndyce and Jarndyce ! " 

I shook my head, wondering even what it was. 

" Not of Jamdyce and Jarndyce ? " said Mr. Kenge, looking 
over his glasses at me, and softly turning the case about and 
about, as if he were petting something. "Not of one of 
the greatest Chancery suits known? Not of Jarndyce and 



MR. KENGE, OF KENGE AND CARBOY. 25 

Jarndyce the a in itself a monument of Chancery practice. 
In which (I would say) every difficulty, every contingency, 
every masterly fiction, every form of procedure known in 
that court, is represented over and over again ? It is a cause 
that could not exist, out of this free and great country. 
I should say that the aggregate of costs in Jarndyce and 
Jarndyce, Mrs. Rachael ; " I was afraid he addressed himself 
to her, because I appeared inattentive ; " amounts at the 
present hour to from six-ty to sEVEN-ty THOUSAND POUNDS ! " 
said Mr. Kenge, leaning back in his chair. 

I felt very ignorant, but what could I do ? I was so 
entirely unacquainted with the subject, that I understood 
nothing about it even then. 

" And she really never heard of the cause ! " said Mr. 
Kenge. " Surprising ! " 

" Miss Barbary, sir," returned Mrs. Rachael, " who is now 
among the Seraphim " 

("I hope so, I am sure," said Mr. Kenge politely.) 

" Wished Esther only to know what would be serviceable 
to her. And she knows, from any teaching she has had here, 
nothing more." 

" Well ! " said Mr. Kenge. " Upon the whole, very proper. 
Now to the point," addressing me. "Miss Barbary, your 
sole relation (in fact, that is ; for I am bound to observe 
that in law you had none), being deceased, and it naturally 
not being to be expected that Mrs. Rachael ' " 

" O dear no ! " said Mrs. Rachael, quickly. 

"Quite so," assented Mr. Kenge; "that Mrs. Rachael 
should charge herself with your maintenance and support (I 
beg you won't distress yourself), you are in a position to 
receive the renewal of an offer which I was instructed to 
make to Miss Barbary some two years ago, and which, 
though rejected then, was understood to be renewable under 
the lamentable circumstances that have since occurred. Now, 
if I avow, that I represent, in Jamdyce and Jarndyce, and 
otherwise, a highly humane, but at the same time singular 



26 BLEAK HOUSE. 

man, shall I compromise myself by any stretch of my pro 
fessional caution?" said Mr. Kenge, leaning back in his 
chair again, and looking calmly at us both. 

He appeared to enjoy beyond everything the sound of 
his own voice. I couldn't wonder at that, for it was mellow 
and full, and gave great importance to every word he uttered. 
He listened to himself with obvious satisfaction, and some 
times gently beat time to his own music with his head, or 
rounded a sentence with his hand. I was very much im 
pressed by him even then, before I knew that he formed 
himself on the model of a great lord who was his client, and 
that he was generally called Conversation Kenge. 

"Mr. Jarndyce," he pursued, "being aware of the I 
would say, desolate position of our young friend, offers to 
place her at a first-rate establishment ; where her education 
shall be completed, where her comfort shall be secured, 
where her reasonable wants shall be anticipated, where she 
shall be eminently qualified to discharge her duty in that 
station of life unto which it has pleased shall I say Pro 
vidence? to call her." 

My heart was filled so full, both by what he said, and by 
his affecting manner of saying it, that I was not able to 
speak, though I tried. 

" Mr. Jarndyce," he went on, " makes no condition, beyond 
expressing his expectation, that our young friend will not 
at any time remove herself from the establishment in ques 
tion without his knowledge and concurrence. That she will 
faithfully apply herself to the acquisition of those accomplish 
ments, upon the exercise of which she will be ultimately 
dependent. That she will tread in the paths of virtue and 
honour, and the a so forth." 

I was still less able to speak, than before. 

"Now, what does our young friend say?" proceeded Mr. 
Kenge. "Take time, take time! I pause for her reply. 
But take time!" 

What the destitute subject of such an offer tried to say, 



IN THE STAGE-COACH. 27 

I need not repeat. What she did say, I could more easily 
tell, if it were worth the telling. What she felt, and will 
feel to her dying hour, I could never relate. 

This interview took place at Windsor, where I had passed 
(as far as I knew) my whole life. On that day week, amply 
provided with all necessaries, I left it, inside the stage-coach, 
for Reading. 

Mrs. Rachael was too good to feel any emotion at parting, 
but I was not so good, and wept bitterly. I thought that 
I ought to have known her better after so many years, and 
ought to have made myself enough of a favourite with her 
to make her sorry then. When she gave me one cold parting 
kiss upon my forehead, like a thaw-drop from the stone 
porch it was a very frosty day I felt so miserable and 
self-reproachful, that I clung to her and told her it was my 
fault, I knew, that she could say good-bye so easily! 

" No, Esther ! " she returned. " It is your misfortune ! * 

The coach was at the little lawn-gate we had not come 
out until we heard the wheels and thus I left her, with a 
sorrowful heart. She went in before my boxes were lifted 
to the coach-roof, and shut the door. As long as I could 
see the house, I looked back at it from the window, through 
my tears. My godmother had left Mrs. Rachael all the little 
property she possessed ; and there was to be a sale ; and an 
old hearthrug with roses on it, which always seemed to me 
the first thing in the world I had ever seen, was hanging 
outside in the frost and snow. A day or two before, I had 
wrapped the dear old doll in her own shawl, and quietly 
laid her I am half ashamed to tell it in the garden-earth, 
under the tree that shaded my old window. I had no com 
panion left but my bird, and him I carried with me in 
his cage. 

When the house was out of sight, I sat, with my bird 
cage in the straw at my feet, forward on the low seat, to 
look out of the high window; watching the frosty trees, 
that were like beautiful pieces of spar; and the fields all 



28 BLEAK HOUSE. 

smooth and white with last night's snow; and the sun, so 
red but yielding so little heat ; and the ice, dark like metal, 
where the skaters and sliders had brushed the snow away, 
There was a gentleman in the coach who sat on the opposite 
seat, and looked very large in a quantity of wrappings ; but 
he sat gazing out of the other window, and took no notice 
of me. 

I thought of my dead godmother; of the night when ij 
read to her; of her frowning so fixedly and sternly in her 
bed ; of the strange place I was going to ; of the people I 
should find there, and what they would be like, and what 
they would say to me; when a voice in the coach gave me 
a terrible start. 

It said, "What the de-vil are you crying for?"" 

I was so frightened that I lost my voice, and could only 
answer in a whisper. "Me, sir? 1 " For of course I knew it 
must have been the gentleman in the quantity of wrappings, 
though he was still looking out of his window. 

" Yes, you,' 1 he said, turning round. 

" I didn't know I was crying, sir," I faltered. 

" But you are ! " said the gentleman. " Look here ! " He 
came quite opposite to me from the other corner of the 
coach, brushed one of his large furry cuffs across my eyes 
(but without hurting me), and showed me that it was wet. 

" There ! Now you know you are," he said. " Don't 
you?" 

" Yes, sir," I said. 

"And what are you crying for?" said the gentleman. 
" Don't you want to go there ? " 

"Where, sir?" 

"Where? Why, wherever you are going," said the 
gentleman. 

" I am very glad to go there, sir," I answered. 

" Well, then ! Look glad ! " said the gentleman. 

I thought he was very strange; or at least that what I 
could see of him was very strange, for he was wrapped up to 



A STRANGE GENTLEMAN. 29 

the chin, and his face was almost hidden in a fur cap, with 
broad fur straps at the side of his head, fastened under his 
chin ; but I was composed again, and not afraid of him. So 
I told him that I thought I must have been crying, because 
of my godmothers death, and because of Mrs. Rachael's not 
being sorry to part with me. 

" Con-found Mrs. Rachael ! " said the gentleman. " Let 
her fly away in a high wind on a broomstick ! " 

I began to be really afraid of him now, and looked at him 
with the greatest astonishment. But I thought that he had 
pleasant eyes, although he kept on muttering to himself in 
an angry manner, and calling Mrs. Rachael names. 

After a little while, he opened his outer wrapper, which 
appeared to me large enough to wrap up the whole coach, 
and put his arm down into a deep pocket in the side. 

"Now, look here! 11 he said. "In this paper, 11 which was 
nicely folded, "is a piece of the best plum-cake that can be 
got for money sugar on the outside an inch thick, like fat 
on mutton chops. Here's a little pie (a gem this is, both 
for size and quality), made in France. And what do ycu 
suppose it's made of? Livers of fat geese. There's a pie! 
Now let's see you eat "em. 11 

" Thank you, sir, 11 I replied, " thank you very much indeed, 
but I hope you won't be offended ; they are too rich for me." 

" Floored again ! " said the gentleman, which I didn't at 
all understand ; and threw them both out of window. 

He did not speak to me any more, until he got out of the 
coach a little way short of Reading, when he advised me to 
be a good girl, and to be studious ; and shook hands with 
me. I must say I was relieved by his departure. We left 
him at a milestone. I often walked past it afterwards, and 
never for a long time, without thinking of him, and half 
expecting to meet him. But I never did; and so, as time 
went on, he passed out of my mind. 

When the coach stopped, a very neat lady looked up at 
the window, and said : 



80 BLEAK HOUSE: 

" Miss Donny." 

"No, ma'am, Esther Summerson." 

" That is quite right," said the lady, " Miss Donny." 

I now understood that she introduced herself by that name, 
and begged Miss Donny's pardon for my mistake, and pointed 
out my boxes at her request. Under the direction of a very 
neat maid, they were put outside a very small green carriage ; 
and then Miss Donny, the maid, and I, got inside, and were 
driven away. 

"Everything is ready for you, Esther," said Miss Donny; 
" and the scheme of your pursuits has been arranged in exact 
accordance with the wishes of your guardian, Mr. Jarndyce." 

Of did you say, ma'am ? " 

" Of your guardian, Mr. Jarndyce," said Miss Donny. 

I was so bewildered that Miss Donny thought the cold 
had been too severe for me, and lent me her smelling- 
bottle. 

"Do you know my guardian, Mr. Jarndyce, ma'am?" I 
asked, after a good deal of hesitation. 

"Not personally, Esther," said Miss Donny; "merely 
through his solicitors, Messrs. Kenge and Carboy, of London. 
A very superior gentleman, Mr. Kenge. Truly eloquent 
indeed. Some of his periods quite majestic ! " 

I felt this to be very true, but was too confused to attend 
to it. Our speedy arrival at our destination, before I had 
time to recover myself, increased my confusion ; and I never 
shall forget the uncertain and the unreal air of everything at 
Greenleaf (Miss Donny's house), that afternoon ! 

But I soon became used to it. I was so adapted to the 
routine of Greenleaf before long, that I seemed to have been 
there a great while : and almost to have dreamed rather than 
really lived, my old life at my godmother's. Nothing could 
be more precise, exact, and orderly, than Greenleaf. There 
was a time for everything all round the dial of the clock, 
and everything was done at its appointed moment. 

We were twelve boarders, and there were two Miss Donnys, 



GREENLEAF. 31 

twins. It was understood that I would have to depend, by- 
and-by, on my qualifications as a governess; and I was not 
only instructed in everything that was taught at Greenleaf, 
but was very soon engaged in helping to instruct others. 
Although I was treated in every other respect like the rest 
of the school, this single difference was made in my case from 
the first. As I began to know more, I taught more, and so 
in course of time I had plenty to do, which I was very fond 
of doing, because it made the dear girls fond of me. At 
last, whenever a new pupil came who was a little downcast 
and unhappy, she was so sure indeed I don't know why 
to make a friend of me, that all new-comers were confided 
to my care. They said I was so gentle; but I am sure they 
were ! I often thought of the resolution I had made on my 
birthday, to try to be industrious, contented, and true-hearted, 
and to do some good to some one, and win some love if I 
could; and indeed, indeed, I felt almost ashamed to have 
done so little and have won so much. 

I passed at Greenleaf six happy, quiet years. I never saw 
in any face there, thank Heaven, on my birthday, that it 
would have been better if I had never been born. When 
the day came round, it brought me so many tokens of affec 
tionate remembrance that my room was beautiful with them 
from New Year's Day to Christmas. 

In those six years I had never been away, except on visits 
at holiday time in the neighbourhood. After the first six 
months or so, I had taken Miss Donny's advice in reference 
to the propriety of writing to Mr. Kenge, to say that I was 
happy and grateful; and with her approval I had written 
such a letter. I had received a formal answer acknowledging 
its receipt, and saying, " We note the contents thereof, which 
shall be duly communicated to our client."" After that, I 
sometimes heard Miss Donny and her sister mention how 
regular my accounts were paid ; and about twice a year I 
ventured to write a similar letter. I always received by 
return of post exactly the same answer, in the same round 






,<jo BLEAK HOUSE. 

hand; with the signature of Kenge and Carboy in another 
writing, which I supposed to be Mr. Kenge's. 

It seems so curious to me to be obliged to write all this 
about myself ! As if this narrative were the narrative of my 
life ! But my little body will soon fall into the background 
now. 

Six quiet years (I find I am saying it for the second time) 
I had passed at Greenleaf, seeing in those around me, as it 
might be in a looking-glass, every stage of my own growth 
and change there, when, one November morning, I received 
this letter. I omit the date. 

Old Square, Lincoln's Inn. 
Madam, 

Jarndyce and Jarndyce. 

Our cli Mr. Jarndyce being abt to rece into his house, under 
an Order of the Ct of Chy, a Ward of the Ct in this cause, 
for whom lie wishes to secure an elgble compn, directs us to 
inform you that he will be glad of your serces in the afsd 

capacity. 

We have arrngd for your being forded, carriage free, 

p r eight o^clock coach from Reading', on Monday morning 

next, to White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly, London, where one of 

our elks will be in waiting to convey you to our off'e as above. 

We are, Madam, Your obed* Serv", 

Kenge and Carboy. 
Miss Esther Summer son. 

O, never, never, never shall I forget the emotion this letter 
caused in the house ! It was so tender in them to care so 
much for me; it was so gracious in that Father who had not 
forgotten me, to have made my orphan way so smooth and 
easy, and to have inclined so many youthful natures towards 
me ; that I could hardly bear it. Not that I would have had 
them less sorry I am afraid not ; but the pleasure of it, and 
the pain of it, and the pride and joy of it, and the humble 



A FAREWELL TO OLD FRIENDS. 33 

regret of it, were so blended, that my heart seemed almost 
breaking while it was full of rapture. 

The letter gave me only five days' 1 notice of my removal. 
When every minute added to the proofs of love and kindness 
that were given me in those five days ; and when at last the 
morning came, and when they took me through all the rooms 
that I might see them for the last time ; and when some 
cried, " Esther, dear, say good-bye to me here, at my bedside, 
where you first spoke so kindly to me ! " and when others 
asked me only to write their names, " With Esther's love ; " 
and when they all surrounded me with their parting presents, 
and clung to me weeping, and cried, "What shall we do 
when dear, dear Esther's gone ! " and when I tried to tell 
them how forbearing, and how good they had all been to me, 
and how I blessed, and thanked them every one ; what a 
heart I had ! 

And when the two Miss Donnys grieved as much to part 
with me, as the least among them ; and when the maids said, 
Bless you, miss, wherever you go ! " and when the ugly lame 
old gardener, who I thought had hardly noticed me in all 
those years, came panting after the coach to give me a little 
nosegay of geraniums, and told me I had been the light of his 
eyes indeed the old man said so ! what a heart I had then ! 

And could I help it, if with all this, and the coming to 
the little school, and the unexpected sight of the poor 
children outside waving their hats and bonnets to me, and 
of a grey-haired gentleman and lady, whose daughter I had 
helped to teach and at whose house I had visited (who were 
said to be the proudest people in all that country), caring 
for nothing but calling out, " Good-bye, Esther. May you 
be very happy ! " could I help it if I was quite bowed down 
in the coach by myself, and said, " O, I am so thankful, I am 
so thankful ! " many times over ! 

But of course I soon considered that I must not take tears 
where I was going, after all that had been done for me. 
Therefore, of course, I made myself sob less, and persuaded 

VOL. I, D 



34 BLEAK HOUSE. 

myself to be quiet by saying very often, " Esther, now you 
really must ! This will not do ! " I cheered myself up pretty 
well at last, though I am afraid I was longer about it than 
I ought to have been ; and when I had cooled my eyes with 
lavender water, it was time to watch for London. 

I was quite persuaded that we were there, when we were 
ten miles off; and when we really were there, that we should 
never get there. However, when we began to jolt upon a 
stone pavement, and particularly when every other conveyance 
seemed to be running into us, and we seemed to be running 
into every other conveyance, I began to believe that we really 
were approaching the end of our journey. Very soon after 
wards we stopped. 

A young gentleman who had inked himself by accident, 
addressed me from the pavement, and said, "I am from 
Kenge and Carboy's, miss, of Lincoln's Inn." 

" If you please, sir," said I. 

He was very obliging; and as he handed me into a fly, 
after superintending the removal of my boxes, I asked him 
whether there was a great fire anywhere? For the streets 
were so full of dense brown smoke that scarcely anything was 
to be seen. 

" O dear no, miss," he said. " This is a London particular." 

I had never heard of such a thing. 

"A fog, miss," said the young gentleman. 

" O indeed ! " said I. 

We drove slowly through the dirtiest and darkest streets 
that ever were seen in the world (I thought), and in such a 
distracting state of confusion that I wondered how the people 
kept their senses, until we passed into sudden quietude under 
an old gateway, and drove on through a silent square until 
we came to an odd nook in a corner, where there was an 
entrance up a steep, broad flight of stairs, like an entrance 
to a church. And there really was a churchyard, outside 
under some cloisters, for I saw the gravestones from the, 
staircase window. 



GOING BEFORE THE CHANCELLOR. 35 

This was Kenge and Carboy's. -The young gentleman 
showed me through an outer office into Mr. Kenge's room 
there was no one in it and politely put an arm-chair for 
me by the fire. He then called my attention to a little 
looking-glass, hanging from a nail on one side of the 
chimney-piece. 

"In case you should wish to look at yourself, miss, after 
the journey, as you're going before the Chancellor. Not that 
if s requisite, I am sure," said the young gentleman civilly. 

"Going before the Chancellor?" I said, startled for a 
moment. 

" Only a matter of form, miss," returned the young gentle 
man. "Mr. Kenge is in Court now. He left his compli 
ments, and would you partake of some refreshment ; " there 
were biscuits and a decanter of wine on a small table ; " and 
look over the paper;" which the young gentleman gave me 
as he spoke. He then stirred the fire, and left me. 

Everything was so strange the stranger from its being 
night in the day-time, the candles burning with a white 
flame, and looking raw and cold that I read the words in 
the newspaper without knowing what they meant, and found 
myself reading the same words repeatedly. As it was of no 
use going on in that way, I put the paper down, took a 
peep at my bonnet in the glass to see if it was neat, and 
looked at the room which was not half lighted, and at the 
shabby dusty tables, and at the piles of writings, and at a 
bookcase full of the most inexpressive-looking books that 
ever had anything to say for themselves. Then I went on, 
thinking, thinking, thinking; and the fire went on, burning,, 
burning, burning; and the candles went on flickering and 
guttering, and there were no snuffers until the young gentle 
man by-and-by brought a very dirty pair; for two hours. 

At last Mr. Kenge came. He was not altered; but he 
was surprised to see how altered I was; and appeared quite 
pleased. "As you are going to be the companion of the 
young lady who is now in the Chancellor's private room, 



36 BLEAK HOUSE, 

Miss Summerson," he said, "we thought it well that you 1 
should be in attendance also. You will not be discomposed | 
by the Lord Chancellor, I dare say?" 

No, sir," I said, "I don't think I shall." Really not j 
seeing, on consideration, why I should be. 

So Mr. Kenge gave me his arm, and we went round the 
corner, under a colonnade, and in at a side door. And so 
we came, along a passage, into a comfortable sort of room, | 
where a young lady and a young gentleman were standing 
near a great, loud-roaring fire. A screen was interposed 
between them and it, and they were leaning on the screen, ' 
talking. 

They both looked up when I came in, and I saw in the 
young lady, with the fire shining upon her, such a beautiful 
girl ! With such rich golden hair, such soft blue eyes, and 
such a bright, innocent, trusting face ! 

"Miss Ada," said Mr. Kenge, "this is Miss Summerson." 

She came to meet me with a smile of welcome and her 
hand extended, but seemed to change her mind in a moment, 
and kissed me. In short, she had such a natural, captivating, 
winning manner, that in a few minutes we were sitting in 
the window-seat, with the light of the fire upon us, talking 
together, as free and happy as could be. 

What a load off my mind ! It was so delightful to know 
that she could confide in me, and like me ! it was so good of 
her, and so encouraging to me ! 

The young gentleman was her distant cousin, she told me, 
and his name Richard Carstone. He was a handsome youth, 
with an ingenuous face, and a most engaging laugh ; and 
after she had called him up to where we sat, he stood by us, 
in the light of the fire too, talking gaily, like a light-hearted 
boy. He was very young; not more than nineteen then, if 
quite so much, but nearly two years older than she was. 
They were both orphans, and (what was very unexpected and 
curious to me) had never met before that day. Our all three 
coming together for the first time, in such an unusual place, 



THE WARDS IN CHANCERY. 37 

was a thing to talk about ; and we talked about it ; and the 
fire, which had left off' roaring, winked its red eyes at us 
as Richard said like a drowsy old Chancery lion. 

We conversed in a low tone, because a full-dressed gentle 
man in a bag wig frequently came in and out, and when he 
did so, we could hear a drawling sound in the distance, 
which he said was one of the counsel in our case addressing 
the Lord Chancellor. He told Mr. Kenge that the Chancellor 
would be up in five minutes ; and presently we heard a 
bustle, and a tread of feet, and Mr. Kenge said that the 
Court had risen, and his lordship was in the next room. 

The gentleman in the bag wig opened the door almost 
directly? and requested Mr. Kenge to come in. Upon that, 
we all went into the next room ; Mr. Kenge first, with my 
darling it is so natural to me now, that I can't help writing- 
it ; and there, plainly dressed in black, and sitting in an 
arm-chair at a table near the fire, was his lordship, whose 
robe, trimmed with beautiful gold-lace, was thrown upon 
another chair. He gave us a searching look as we entered, 
but his manner was both courtly and kind. 

The gentleman in the bag wig laid bundles of papers on 
his lordship^s table, and his lordship silently selected one, and 
turned over the leaves. 

" Miss Clare," said the Lord Chancellor. " Miss Ada 
Clare ? " 

Mr. Kenge presented her, and his lordship begged her to 
sit down near him. That he admired her, and was interested 
by her, even / could see in a moment. It touched me, that 
the home of such a beautiful young creature should be 
represented by that dry official place. The Lord High 
Chancellor, at his best, appeared so poor a substitute for 
the love and pride of parents. 

"The Jarndyce in question," said the Lord Chancel lor, 
still turning over leaves, " is Jarndyce of Bleak House." 

" Jarndyce of Bleak House, my lord," said Mr. Kenge. 

" A dreary name," said the Lord Chancellor. 



38 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"But not a dreary place at present, my lord," said Mr. 
Kenge. 

" And Bleak House," said his lordship, " is in " 

" Hertfordshire, my lord." 

" Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House is not married ? " said his 
lordship. 

" He is not, my lord," said Mr. Kenge. 

A pause. 

" Young Mr. Richard Carstone is present ? " said the 
Lord Chancellor, glancing towards him. 

Kichard bowed and stepped forward. 

" Hum ! " said the Lord Chancellor, turning over more 
loaves. 

" Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House, my lord," Mr. Kenge 
observed, in a low voice, " if I may venture to remind your 
lordship, provides a suitable companion for " 

" For Mr. Richard Carstone ? " I thought (but I am not 
quite sure) I heard his lordship say, in an equally low voice, 
and with a smile. 

"For Miss Ada Clare. This is the young lady. Miss 
Summerson." 

His lordship gave me an indulgent look, and acknowledged 
my curtsey very graciously. 

" Miss Summerson is not related to any party in the cause, 
I think?" 

" No, my lord." 

Mr. Kenge leant over before it was quite said, and 
whispered. His lordship, with his eyes upon his papers, 
listened, nodded twice or thrice, turned over more leaves, 
and did not look towards me again, until we were going 
away. 

Mr. Kenge now retired, and Richard with him, to where 
I was, near the door, leaving my pet (it is so natural to me 
that again I can't help it !) sitting near the Lord Chancellor ; 
with whom his lordship spoke a little apart ; asking her, as 
she told me afterwards, whether she had well reflected on 



LIKE THE CHILDREN IN THE WOOD. 39 

the proposed arrangement, and if she thought she would be 
happy under the roof of Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House, and 
why she thought so ? Presently he rose courteously and 
released her, and then he spoke for a minute or two with 
Richard Carstone ; not seated, but standing, and altogether 
with more ease and less ceremony as if he still knew, though 
he was Lord Chancellor, how to go straight to the candour 
of a boy. 

" Very well ! " said his lordship aloud. " I shall make the 
order. Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House has chosen, so far as 
I may judge," and this was when he looked at me, "a very 
good companion for the young lady, and the arrangement 
altogether seems the best of which the circumstances admit." 

He dismissed us pleasantly, and we all went out, very 
much obliged to him for being so affable and polite; by 
which he had certainly lost no dignity, but seemed to us to 
have gained some. 

When we got under the colonnade, Mr. Kenge remembered 
that he must go back for a moment, to ask a question ; and 
left us in the fog, with the Lord Chancellor's carriage and 
servants waiting for him to come out. 

" Well ! " said Richard Carstone, " that's over ! And 
where do we go next, Miss Summerson ? " 

" Don't you know ? " I said. 

" Not in the least," said he. 

" And don't you know, my love ? " I asked Ada. 

" No ! " said she. " Don't you ? " 

" Not at all ! " said I. 

We looked at one another, half laughing at our being like 
the children in the wood, when a curious little old woman 
in a squeezed bonnet, and carrying a reticule, came curtseying 
and smiling up to us, with an air of great ceremony. 

" O ! " said she. " The wards in Jarndyce ! Ve-ry happy, 
I am sure, to have the honour! It is a good omen for youth, 
and hope, and beauty, when they find themselves in this 
place, and don't know what's to come of it." 



40 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Mad ! " whispered Richard, not thinking she could hear I 
him. 

" Right ! Mad, young gentleman," she returned so quickly 
that he was quite abashed. "I was a ward myself. I was 
not mad at that time," curtseying low, and smiling between 
every little sentence. "I had youth and hope. I believe, 
beauty. It matters very little now. Neither of the three 
served, or saved me. I have the honour to attend Court 
regularly. With my documents. I expect a judgment. 
Shortly. On the Day of Judgment. I have discovered that 
the sixth seal mentioned in the Revelations is the Great 
Seal. It has been open a long time ! Pray accept my 
blessing." 

As Ada was a little frightened, I said, to humour the 
poor old lady, that we were much obliged to her. 

" Ye-es ! " she said mincingly. " I imagine so. And here 
is Conversation Kenge. AVith his documents ! How does 
your honourable worship do ? " 

" Quite well, quite well ! Now don't be troublesome, that's 
a good soul ! " said Mr. Kenge, leading the way back. 

"By no means," said the poor old, lady, keeping up with 
Ada and me. "Anything but troublesome. I shall confer 
estates on both, which is not being troublesome, I trust ? 
I expect a judgment. Shortly. On the Day of Judgment. 
This is a good omen for you. Accept my blessing ! " 

She stopped at the bottom of the steep, broad flight of 
stairs; but we looked back as we went up, and she was still 
there, saying, still with a curtsey and a smile between every 
little sentence, "Youth. And hope. And beauty. And 
Chancery. And Conversation Kenge! Ha! Pray accept 
my blessing ! " 



CHAPTER IV. 

TELESCOPIC PHILANTHROPY. 

WE were to pass the night, Mr. Kenge told us when we 
arrived in his room, at Mrs. Jellyby 's; and then he turned 
to me, and said he took it for granted I knew who Mrs. 
Jelly by was ? 

"I really don't, sir,* 1 ' I returned. "Perhaps Mr. Carstone 
or Miss Clare " 

But no, they knew nothing whatever about Mrs. Jellyby. 

" In-deed ! Mrs. Jellyby, 1 ' said Mr. Kenge, standing with 
his back to the fire, and casting his eyes over the dusty 
hearth-rug as if it were Mrs. Jelly by's biography, "is a lady 
of very remarkable strength of character, who devotes herself 
entirely to the public. She has devoted herself to an exten 
sive variety of public subjects, at various times, and is at 
present (until something else attracts her) devoted to the 
subject of Africa ; with a view to the general cultivation of 
the coffee berry and the natives and the happy settlement, 
on the banks of the African rivers, of our superabundant 
home population. Mr. Jarndyce, who is desirous to aid any 
work that is considered likely to be a good work, and who 
is much sought after by philanthropists, has, I believe, a very 
high opinion of Mrs. Jellyby." 

Mr. Kenge, adjusting his cravat, then looked at us. 

"And Mr. Jellyby, sir?" suggested Richard. 

"Ah! Mr. Jellyby," said Mr. Kenge, is a I don't 



42 BLEAK HOUSE. 

know that I can describe him to you better than by saying 
that he is the husband of Mrs. Jellyby." 

"A nonentity, sir?" said Richard, with a droll look. 

" I don't say that," returned Mr. Kenge, gravely. " I 
can't say that, indeed,* for I know nothing whatever of Mr. 
Jellyby. I never, to my knowledge, had the pleasure of 
seeing Mr. Jellyby. He may be a very superior man ; but he 
is, so to speak, merged Merged in the more shining qualities 
of his wife." Mr. Kenge proceeded to tell us that as the 
road to Bleak House would have been very long, dark, and 
tedious, on such an evening, and as we had been travelling 
already, Mr. Jarndyce had himself proposed this arrangement. 
A carriage would be at Mrs. Jellyby's to convey us out of 
town, early in the forenoon of to-morrow. 

He then rang a little bell, and the young gentleman came 
in. Addressing him by the name of Guppy, Mr. Kenge 
inquired whether Miss Summerson's boxes and the rest of 
the baggage had been "sent round." Mr. Guppy said yes, 
they had been sent round, and a coach was waiting to take 
us round too, as soon as we pleased. 

"Then it only remains," said Mr. Kenge, shaking hands 
with us, "for me to express my lively satisfaction in (good 
clay, Miss Clare !) the arrangement this day concluded, and 
my (good bye to you, Miss Summerson !) lively hope that it 
will conduce to the happiness, the (glad to have had the 
honour of making your acquaintance, Mr. Carstone !) welfare, 
the advantage in all points of view, of all concerned ! Guppy, 
see the party safely there." 

"Where is 'there,' Mr. Guppy?" said Richard, as we 
went down-stairs. 

"No distance," said Mr. Guppy; "round in Thavies Inn, 
you know." 

"I can't say I know where it is, for I come from 
Winchester, and am strange in London." 

"Only round the corner," said Mr. Guppy. "We just 
twist up Chancery Lane, and cut along Holborn, and there 



AT MRS. JELLYBY'S. 43 

we are in four minutes' time, as near as a toucher. This is 
about a London particular now, ahVt it, miss?" He seemed 
quite delighted with it on my account. 

" The fog is very dense, indeed ! " said I. 

"Not that it affects you, though, I'm sure," said Mr. 
Guppy, putting up the steps. " On the contrary, it seems 
to do you good, miss, judging from your appearance." 

I knew he meant well in paying me this compliment, so I 
laughed at myself for blushing at it, when he had shut the 
door and got upon the box; and we all three laughed, and 
chatted about our inexperience, and the strangeness of 
London, until we turned up under an archway, to our 
destination : a narrow street of high houses, like an oblong 
cistern to hold the fog. There was a confused little crowd 
of people, principally children, gathered about the house at 
which we stopped, which had a tarnished brass plate on the 
door, with the inscription, JELLYBY. 

" Don't be frightened ! " said Mr. Guppy, looking in at 
the coach-window. "One of the young Jellybys been and 
got his head through the area railings ! " 

" O poor child," said I, " let me out, if you please ! " 

"Pray be careful of yourself, miss. The young Jellybys 
are always up to something," said Mr. Guppy. 

I made my way to the poor child, who was one of the 
dirtiest little unfortunates I ever saw, and found him very 
hot and frightened, and crying loudly, fixed by the neck 
between two iron railings, while a milkman and a beadle, 
with the kindest intentions possible, were endeavouring to 
drag him back by the legs, under a general impression that 
his skull was compressible by those means. As I found 
(after pacifying him), that he was a little boy, with a 
naturally large head, I thought that, perhaps, where his 
head could go, his body could follow, and mentioned that 
the best mode of extrication might be to push him forward. 
This was so favourably received by the milkman and beadle, 
that he would immediately have been pushed into the area, 



44 BLEAK HOUSE. 

if I had not held his pinafore, while Richard and Mr. Guppy 
ran down through the kitchen, to catch him when he should 
lye released. At last he was happily got down without any 
accident, and then he began to beat Mr. Guppy with a hoop- 
stick in quite a frantic manner. 

Nobody had appeared belonging to the house, except a 
person in pattens, who had been poking at the child from 
below with a broom ; I don't know with what object, and 
I don^t think she did. I therefore supposed that Mrs. 
Jellyby was not at home; and was quite surprised when the 
person appeared in the passage without the pattens, and 
going up to the back room on the first floor, before Ada 
and me, announced us as, " Them two young ladies, Missis 
Jellyby ! " We passed several more children on the way up, 
whom it was difficult to avoid treading on in the dark ; and 
as we came into Mrs. Jellyby^s presence, one of the poor 
little things fell down-stairs down a whole flight (as it 
sounded to me), with a great noise. 

Mrs. Jellyby, whose face reflected none of the uneasiness 
which we could not help showing in our own faces, as the dear 
child's head recorded its passage with a bump on every stair 
Richard afterwards said he counted seven, besides one for 
the landing received us with perfect equanimity. She was 
a pretty, very diminutive, plump woman, of from forty to 
fifty, with handsome eyes, though they had a curious habit 
of seeming to look a long way off. As if I am quoting 
Richard again they could see nothing nearer than Africa ! 

" I am very glad indeed," said Mrs. Jellyby, in an agreeable 
voice, " to have the pleasure of receiving you. I have a 
great respect for Mr. Jarndyce; and no one in whom he is 
interested can be an object of indifference to me." 

We expressed our acknowledgments, and sat down behind 
the door where there was a lame invalid of a sofa. Mi's. 
Jellyby had very good hair, but was too much occupied with 
her African duties to brush it. The shawl in which she 
had been loosely muffled, dropped on to her chair when she 



BORRIOBOOLA-GHA. 45 

advanced to us ; and as she turned to resume her seat, we 
could not help noticing that her dress didn't nearly meet 
up the back, and that the open space was railed across with 
a lattice- work of stay-lace like a summer-house. 

The room, which was strewn with papers and nearly filled 
by a great writing-table covered Avith similar litter, was, I 
must say, not only very untidy, but very dirty. We were 
obliged to take notice of that with our sense of sight, even 
while, with our sense of hearing, we followed the poor child 
who had tumbled down-stairs : I think into the back kitchen, 
where somebody seemed to stifle him. 

But what principally struck us was a jaded, and unhealthy-! 
looking, though by no means plain girl, at the writing-tablej 
who sat biting the feather of her pen, and staring at us. I 
suppose nobody ever was in such a state of ink. And, from 
her tumbled hair to her pretty feet, which were disfigured 
with frayed and broken satin slippers trodden down at heel, 
she really seemed to have no article of dress upon her, from 
a pin upwards, that was in its proper condition or its right 
place. 

" You find me, my dears," said Mrs. Jellyby, snuffing the 
two great office candles in tin candlesticks which made the 
room taste strongly of hot tallow (the fire had gone out, 
and there was nothing in the grate but ashes, a bundle of 
wood, and a poker), " you find me, my dears, as usual, very 
busy; but that you will excuse. The African project at 
present employs my whole time. It involves me in corre-\ 
spondence with public bodies, and with private individuals) 
anxious for the welfare of their species all over the country. 
I am happy to say it is advancing. We hope by this time 
next year to have from a hundred and fifty to two hundred 
healthy families cultivating coffee and educating the natives 
of Borrioboola-Gha, on the left bank of the Niger." 

As Ada said nothing, but looked at me, I said it must 
be very gratifying, 

"It is gratifying," said Mrs. Jellyby. "It involves the 



46 BLEAK HOUSE. 

devotion of all my energies, such as they are ; but that is 
nothing, so that it succeeds ; and I am more confident of 
success every day. Do you know, Miss Summerson, I 
almost wonder that you never turned your thoughts to 
Africa/' 

This application of the subject was really so unexpected 
to me, that I was quite at a loss how to receive it. I hinted 
that the climate 

" The finest climate in the world ! " said Mrs. Jellyby. 

"Indeed, ma'am? 11 

" Certainly. With precaution," said Mrs. Jellyby. " You 
may go into Holborn, without precaution, and be run over. 
You may go into Holborn, with precaution, and never be 
run over. Just so with Africa. 1 '' 

I said, " No doubt." I meant as to Holborn. 

"If you would like," said Mrs. Jellyby, putting a number 
of papers towards us, " to look over some remarks on that 
head, and on the general subject (which have been extensively 
circulated), while I finish a letter I am now dictating to 
my eldest daughter, who is my amanuensis " 

The girl at the table left off' biting her pen, and made 
a return to our recognition, which was half bashful and 
half sulky. 

" I shall then have finished for the present," proceeded 
Mi's. Jellyby, with a sweet smile ; " though my work is never 
done. Where are you, Caddy ? " 

" * Presents her compliments to Mr. Swallow, and begs "* T 

said Caddy. 

" ' And begs, 1 " said Mrs. Jellyby, dictating, " ' to inform 
him, in reference to his letter of inquiry on the African 
project. 1 No, Peepy ! Not on any account ! " 

Peepy (so self-named) was the unfortunate child who had 
fallen down-stairs, who now interrupted the correspondence 
by presenting himself, with a strip of plaister on his forehead, 
to exhibit his wounded knees, in which Ada and I did not 
know which to pity most the bruises or the dirt. Mrs. 



POOR PEEPY! 47 

Jellyby merely added, with the serene composure with which 
she said everything, " Go along, you naughty Peepy ! " and 
fixed her fine eyes on Africa again. 

However, as she at once proceeded with her dictation, and 
as I interrupted nothing by doing it, I ventured quietly to 
stop poor Peepy as he was going out, and to take him up 
to nurse. He looked very much astonished at it, and at 
Ada's kissing him ; but soon fell fast asleep in my arms, 
sobbing at longer and longer intervals, until he was quiet. 
I was so occupied with Peepy that I lost the letter in detail, 
though I derived such a general impression from it of the 
momentous importance of Africa, and the utter insignificance 
of all other places and things, that I felt quite ashamed to 
have thought so little about it. 

" Six o'clock ! " said Mrs. Jellyby. " And our dinner hour 
is nominally (for we dine at all hours) five ! Caddy, show 
Miss Clare and Miss Summerson their rooms. You will like 
to make some change, perhaps? You will excuse me, I 
know, being so much occupied. O, that very bad child ! 
Pray put him down, Miss Summerson ! " 

I begged permission to retain him, truly saying that he 
was not at all troublesome ; and carried him up-stairs and 
laid him on my bed. Ada and I had two upper rooms, with 
a door of communication between. They were excessively 
bare and disorderly, and the curtain to my window was 
fastened up with a fork. 

" You would like some hot water, wouldn't you ? " said 
Miss Jellyby, looking round for a jug with a handle to it, 
but looking in vain. 

" If it is not being troublesome," said we. 

" O, it's not the trouble," returned Miss Jellyby ; " the 
question is, if there is any." 

The evening was so very cold, and the rooms had such a 
marshy smell, that I must confess it was a little miserable ; 
and Ada was half crying. We soon laughed, however, and 
were busily unpacking, when Miss Jellyby came back to say, 



48 BLEAK HOUSE. 

that she was sorry there was no hot water ; but they couldn't 
find the kettle, and the boiler was out of order. 

We begged her not to mention it, and^made all the haste 
we could to get down to the fire again. But all the little 
children had come up to the landing outside, to look at the 
phenomenon of Peepy lying on my bed ; and our attention 
was distracted by the constant apparition of noses and fingers, 
in situations of danger between the hinges of the doors. It 
was impossible to shut the door of either room ; for my lock, 
with no knob to it, looked as if it wanted to be wound up ; 
and though the handle of Ada's went round and round with 
the greatest smoothness, it was attended with no effect what 
ever on the door. Therefore I proposed to the children that 
they should come in and be very good at my table, and I 
would tell them the story of Little Red Riding Hood while 
I dressed ; which they did, and were as quiet as mice, in 
cluding Peepy, who awoke opportunely before the appearance 
of the wolf. 

When we went down-stairs we found a mug, with "A 
Present from Tunbridge Wells " on it, lighted up in the 
staircase window with a floating wick ; and a young woman, 
with a swelled face bound up in a flannel bandage, blowing 
the fire of the drawing-room (now connected by an open 
door with Mrs. Jellyby^s room), and choking dreadfully. It 
smoked to that degree in short, that we all sat coughing and 
crying with the windows open for half an hour ; during 
which Mrs. Jellyby, with the same sweetness of temper, 
directed letters about Africa. Her being so employed was, 
I must say, a great relief to me ; for Richard told us that he 
had washed his hands in a pie-dish, and that they had found 
the kettle on his dressing-table; and he made Ada laugh so, 
that they made me laugh in the most ridiculous manner. 

Soon after seven o'clock we went down to dinner ; carefully, 
by Mrs. Jellyby's advice ; for the stair-carpets, besides being 
very deficient in stair-wires, were so torn as to be absolute 
traps. We had a fine cod-fish, a piece of roast beef, a dish 



MR. JELLYBY. 



40 



of cutlets, and a pudding ; an excellent dinner, if it had had 
any cooking to speak of, but it was almost raw. The young 
woman with the flannel bandage waited, and dropped every 
thing on the table wherever it happened to go, and never 
moved it again until she put it on the stairs. The person I 
had seen in pattens (who I suppose to have been the cook), 
frequently came and skirmished with her at the door, and 
there appeared to be ill-will between them. 

All through dinner ; which was long, in consequence of such 
accidents as the dish of potatoes being mislaid in the coal 
scuttle, and the handle of the corkscrew coming off, and 
striking the young woman in the chin ; Mrs. Jellyby 
preserved the evenness of her disposition. She told us a 
great deal that was interesting about Borrioboola-Gha and 
the natives ; and received so many letters that Richard, who 
sat by her, saw four envelopes in the gravy at once. Some 
of the letters were proceedings of ladies 1 committees, or 
resolutions of ladies 1 meetings, which she read to us; others 
were applications from people excited in various ways about 
the cultivation of coffee, and natives ; others required 
answers, and these she sent her eldest daughter from the 
table three or four times to write. She was full of business, 
and undoubtedly was, as she had told us, devoted to the 
cause. 

I was a little curious to know who a mild bald gentleman 
in spectacles was, who dropped into a vacant chair (there 
was no top or bottom in particular) after the fish was taken 
away, and seemed passively to submit himself to Borrioboola- 
Gha, but not to be actively interested in that settlement. 
As he never spoke a word, he might have been a native, but 
for his complexion. It was not until we left the table, and 
he remained alone with Richard, that the possibility of his 
being Mr. Jellyby ever entered my head. But he was Mr. 
Jellyby ; and a loquacious young man called Mr. Quale, with 
large shining knobs for temples, and his hair all brushed to 
the back of his head, who came in the evening, and told Ada 



VOL. I. 



.50 BLEAK HOUSE. 

he was a philanthropist, also informed her that he called the 
matrimonial alliance of Mrs. Jellyby with Mr. Jellyby the 
union of mind and matter. 

This young man, besides having a great deal to say for 
himself about Africa, and a project of his for teaching the 
coffee colonists to teach the natives to turn piano-forte legs 
and establish an export trade, delighted in drawing Mrs. 
Jellyby out by saying, "I believe now, Mrs. Jellyby, you 
have received as many as from one hundred and fifty to two 
hundred letters respecting Africa in a single day, have you 
not ? " or, " If my memory does not deceive me, Mrs. Jellyby, 
you once mentioned that you had sent off five thousand 
circulars from one post-office at one time ? " always repeating 
Mrs. Jellyby's answer to us like an interpreter. During the 
whole evening, Mr. Jellyby sat in a corner with his head 
against the wall, as if he were subject to low spirits. It 
seemed that he had several times opened his mouth when 
alone with Richard, after dinner, as if he had something 
on his mind ; but had always shut it again, to Richard's 
extreme confusion, without saying anything. 

Mrs. Jellyby, sitting in quite a nest of waste paper, 
drank coffee all the evening, and dictated at intervals to her 
eldest daughter. She also held a discussion with Mr. Quale ; 
of which the subject seemed to be if I understood it the 
Brotherhood of Humanity ; and gave utterance to some 
beautiful sentiments. I was not so attentive an auditor as I 
might have wished to be, however, for Peepy and the other 
children came flocking about Ada and me in a corner of the 
drawing-room to ask for another story; so we sat down 
among them, and told them in whispers Puss in Boots and 
I don't know what else, until Mrs. Jellyby accidentally 
remembering them, sent them to bed. As Peepy cried for 
me to take him to bed, I carried him up-stairs, where the 
young woman with the flannel bandage charged into the 
midst of the little family like a dragon, and overturned them 
into cribs. 



COUSIN JARNDYCE. 



51 



After that, I occupied myself in making our room a little 
tidy, and in coaxing a very cross fire that had been lighted, 
to burn ; which at last it did, quite brightly. On my return 
down-stairs, I felt that Mrs. Jellyby looked down upon me 
rather, for being so frivolous ; and I was sorry for it ; though 
at the same time I knew that I had no higher pretensions. 

It was nearly midnight before we found an opportunity of 
going to bed ; and even then we left Mrs. Jellyby among 
her papers drinking coffee, and Miss Jellyby biting the 
feather of her pen. 

fc What a strange house ! " said Ada, when we got up-stairs. 
" How curious of my cousin Jarndyce to send us here ! " 

" My love," said I, " it quite confuses me. I want to 
understand it, and I can^t understand it at all." 

" What ? " asked Ada, with her pretty smile. 

"All this, my dear," said I. "It must be very good of 
Mrs. Jellyby to take such pains about a scheme for the 
benefit of Natives and yet Peepy and the housekeeping ! " 

Ada laughed ; and put her arm about my neck, as I stood 
looking at the fire; and told me I was a quiet, dear, good 
creature, and had won her heart. " You are so thoughtful, 
Esther," she said, " and yet so cheerful ! and you do so much, 
so unpretendingly ! You would make a home out of even 
this house." 

My simple darling! She was quite unconscious that she 
only praised herself, and that it was in the goodness of her 
own heart that she made so much of me ! 

" May I ask you a question ? " said I, when we had sat 
before the fire a little while. 

"Five hundred," said Ada. 

"Your cousin, Mr. Jarndyce. I owe so much to him. 
Would you mind describing him to me ? " 

Shaking her golden hair, Ada turned her eyes upon me 
with such laughing wonder, that I was full of wonder too 
partly at her beauty, partly at her surprise. 

"Esther!" she cried. 



52 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" My dear ! " 

" You want a description of my cousin Jarndyce ? " 

"My deal', I never saw him.*" 

" And / never saw him ! " returned Ada. 

Well, to be sure ! 

No, she had never seen him. Young as she was when 
her mama died, she remembered how the tears would come 
into her eyes, when she spoke of him, and of the noble 
generosity of his character, which she had said was to be 
trusted above all earthly things; and Ada trusted it. Her 
cousin Jarndyce had written to her a few months ago, "a 
plain, honest letter," Ada said proposing the arrangement 
we were now to enter on, and telling her that, "in time it 
might heal some of the wounds made by the miserable 
Chancery suit.*" She had replied, gratefully accepting his 
proposal. Richard had received a similar letter, and had 
made a similar response. He had seen Mr. Jarndyce once, 
but only once, five years ago, at Winchester school. He had 
told Ada, when they were leaning on the screen before the 
fire where I found them, that he recollected him as "a 
bluff, rosy fellow. 1 ' This was the utmost description Ada 
could give me. 

It set me thinking so, that when Ada was asleep, I still 
remained before the fire, wondering and wondering about 
Bleak House, and wondering and wondering that yesterday 
morning should seem so long ago. I don't know where my 
thoughts had wandered, when they were recalled by a tap 
at the door. 

I opened it softly, and found Miss Jellyby shivering there, 
with a broken candle in a broken candlestick in one hand, 
and an egg-cup in the other. 

" Good night ! " she said, very sulkily. 

"Good night!" said I. 

"May I come in?" she shortly and unexpectedly asked 
me in the same sulky way. 

"Certainly," said I. "Don't wake Miss Clare," 



I 




MISS JELLYBY. 53 

She would not sit down, but stood by the fire, dipping 
her inky middle finger in the egg-cup, which contained 
vinegar, and smearing it over the ink stains on her face; 
frowning, the whole time, and looking very gloomy. 

" I wish Africa was dead ! " she said, on a sudden. 

I was going to remonstrate. 

"I do ! " she said. " Don't talk to me, Miss Summerson. 
I hate it and detest it. It's a beast ! " 

I told her she was tired, and I was sorry. I put my 
hand upon her head, and touched her forehead, and said it 
was hot now, but would be cool to-morrow. She still stood, 
pouting and frowning at me; but presently put down her 
egg-cup, and turned softly towards the bed where Ada lay. 

" She is very pretty ! " she said, with the same knitted 
brow, and in the same uncivil manner. 

I assented with a smile. 

" An orphan. Ain't she ? " 

" Yes." 

" But knows a quantity, I suppose ? Can dance, and play 
music, and sing? She can talk French, I suppose, and do 
geography, and globes, and needlework, and everything?" 

"No doubt," said I. 

"/ can't," she returned. "I can't do anything hardly, 
except write. I'm always writing for Ma. I wonder you 
two were not ashamed of yourselves to come in this after 
noon, and see me able to do nothing else. It was like 
your ill-nature. Yet you think yourselves very fine, I dare 
say ! " 

I could see that the poor girl was near crying, and I 
resumed my chair without speaking, and looked at her (I 
hope) as mildly as I felt towards her. 

" It's disgraceful," she said. " You know it is. The whole 
house is disgraceful. The children are disgraceful. Pm dis 
graceful. Pa's miserable, and no wonder ! Priscilla drinks 
she's always drinking. It's a great shame and a great 
story of you, if you say you didn't smell her to-day. It was 



54 BLEAK HOUSE. 

as bad as a public-house, waiting at dinner; you know 
it was ! " 

" My dear, I don't know it," said I. 

"You do," she said, very shortly. "You shan't say you 
don't. You do!" 

" O, my dear ! " said I, " if you won't let me speak " ' 

"You're speaking now. You know you are. Don't tell 
stories, Miss Summerson." 

"My dear," said I, "as long as you won't hear me 
out " 

" I don't want to hear you out." 

"O yes, I think you do," said I, "because that would be 
so very unreasonable. I did not know what you tell me, 
because the servant did not come near me at dinner; but I 
don't doubt what you tell me, and I am sorry to hear it." 

" You needn't make a merit of that," said she. 

"No, my dear," said I. "That would be very foolish." 

She was still standing by the bed, and now stooped down 
(but still with the same discontented face) and kissed Ada. 
That done, she came softly back, and stood by the side of 
my chair. Her bosom was heaving in a distressful manner 
that I greatly pitied ; but I thought it better not to speak. 

" I wish I was dead ! " she broke out. " I wish we were 
all dead. It would be a great deal better for us." 

In a moment afterwards, she knelt on the ground at my 
side, hid her face in my dress, passionately begged my pardon, 
and wept. I comforted her, and would have raised her, but 
she cried, No, no ; she wanted to stay there ! 

" You used to teach girls," she said. " If you could only 
have taught me, I could have learnt from you ! I am so 
very miserable, and I like you so much ! " 

I could not persuade her to sit by me, or to do anything 
but move a ragged stool to where she was kneeling, and 
take that, and still hold my dress in the same manner. By 
degrees, the poor tired girl fell asleep; and then I con 
trived to raise her head so that it should rest on my lap, 



AN EARLY VISITOR. 55 

and to cover us both with shawls. The fire went out, and 
all night long she slumbered thus before the ashy grate. 
At first I was painfully awake, and vainly tried to lose 
myself, with my eyes closed, among the scenes of the day. 
At length, by slow degrees, they became indistinct and 
mingled. I began to lose the identity of the sleeper resting 
on me. Now it was Ada; now, one of my old Reading 
friends from whom I could not believe I had so recently 
parted. Now, it was the little mad woman worn out with 
curtseying and smiling; now, some one in authority at Bleak 
House. Lastly, it was no one, and I was no one. 

The purblind day was feebly struggling with the fog, when 
I opened my eyes to encounter those of a dirty-faced little 
spectre fixed upon me. Peepy had scaled his crib, and crept 
down in his bedgown and cap, and was so cold that his 
teeth were chattering as if he had cut them all. 



CHAPTER V. 

A MORNING ADVENTURE. 

ALTHOUGH the morning was raw, and although the fog still 
seemed heavy I say seemed, for the windows were so en 
crusted with dirt, that they would have made Midsummer 
sunshine dim I was sufficiently forewarned of the discomfort 
within doors at that early hour, and sufficiently curious about 
London, to think it a good idea on the part of Miss Jellyby 
when she proposed that we should go out for a walk. 

" Ma won't be down for ever so long,"" she said, " and then 
it's a chance if breakfast's ready for an hour afterwards, they 
dawdle so. As to Pa, he gets what he can, and goes to the 
office. He never has what you would call a regular break 
fast. Priscilla leaves him out the loaf and some milk, when 
there is any, over-night. Sometimes there isn't any milk, 
and sometimes the cat drinks it. But I'm afraid you must 
be tired, Miss Summerson; and perhaps you would rather 
go to bed." 

"I am not at all tired, my dear," said I, "and would 
much prefer to go out." 

" If you're sure you would," returned Miss Jellyby, " I'll 
get my things on." 

Ada said she would go too, and was soon astir. I made 
a proposal to Peepy, in default of being able to do anything 
better for him, that he should let me wash him, and after 
wards lay him down on my bed again. To this he submitted 
with the best grace possible ; staring at me during the whole 



A WALK BEFORE BREAKFAST. 57 

operation, as if he never had been, and never could again be, 
so astonished in his life looking very miserable also, certainly, 
but making no complaint, and going snugly to sleep as soon 
as it was over. At first I was in two minds about taking- 
such a liberty, but I soon reflected that nobody in the house 
was likely to notice it. 

What with the bustle of despatching Peepy, and the bustle 
of getting myself ready, and helping Ada, I was soon quite 
in a glow. We found Miss Jellyby trying to warm herself 
at the fire in the writing-room, which Priscilla was then 
lighting with a smutty parlour candlestick throwing the 
candle in to make it burn better. Everything was just as 
we had left it last night, and was evidently intended to 
remain so. Below-stairs the dinner-cloth had not been taken 
away, but had been left ready for breakfast. Crumbs, dust, 
and waste paper were all over the house. Some pewter-pots 
and a milk-can hung on the area railings ; the door stood 
open ; and we met the cook round the corner coming out of 
a public-house, wiping her mouth. She mentioned, as she 
passed us, that she had been to see what o'clock it was. 

But before we met the cook, we met Richard, who was 
dancing up and down Thavies Inn to warm his feet. He 
was agreeably surprised to see us stirring so soon, and said 
he would gladly share our walk. So he took care of Ada, 
and Miss Jellyby and I went first. I may mention that Miss 
Jellyby had relapsed into her sulky manner, and that I really 
should not have thought she liked me much, unless she had 
told me so. 

" Where would you wish to go ? " she asked. 

"Anywhere, my dear?" I replied. 

"Any whereas nowhere, 11 said Miss Jellyby, stopping per 
versely. 

"Let us go somewhere at any rate," said I. 

She then walked me on very fast. 

" I don't care ! " she said. " Now, you are my witness, 
Miss Summersonj I say I don't care but if he was to come 



58 BLEAK HOUSE. 

to our house, with his great shining lumpy forehead, night 
after night, till he was as old as Methuselah, I wouldn't 
have anything to say to him. Such ASSES as he and Ma 
make of themselves ! 

"My dear!" I remonstrated, in allusion to the epithet, 
and the vigorous emphasis Miss Jellyby set upon it. "Your 
duty as a child " 

"O! don't talk of duty as a child, Miss Summerson; 
whereas Ma's duty as a parent ? All made over to the public 
and Africa, I suppose ! Then let the public and Africa 
show duty as a child ; it's much more their affair than mine. 
You are shocked, I dare say ! Very well, so am I shocked 
too ; so we are both shocked, and there's an end of it ! " 

She walked me on faster yet. 

"But for all that, I say again, he may come, and come, 
and come, and I won't have anything to say to him. I can't 
bear him. If there's any stuff in the world that I hate and 
detest, it's the stuff he and Ma talk. I wonder the very 
paving-stones opposite our house can have the patience to 
stay there, and be a witness of such inconsistencies and 
contradictions as all that sounding nonsense, and Ma's 
management ! " 

I could not but understand her to refer to Mr. Quale, the 
young gentleman who had appeared after dinner yesterday. 
I was saved the disagreeable necessity of pursuing the subject, 
by Richard and Ada coming up at a round pace, laughing, 
and asking us if we meant to run a race ? Thus interrupted, 
Miss Jellyby became silent, and walked moodily on at my 
side; while I admired the long successions and varieties of 
streets, the quantity of people already going to and fro, the 
number of vehicles passing and repassing, the busy prepara 
tions in the setting forth of shop windows and the sweeping 
out of shops, and the extraordinary creatures in rags, secretly 
groping among the swept-out rubbish for pins and other 
refuse. 

"So, cousin," said the cheerful voice of Richard to Ada, 



THE LITTLE OLD LADY. 59 

behind me. " We are never to get out of Chancery ! We 
have come by another way to our place of meeting yesterday, 
and by the Great Seal, here's the old lady again ! " 

Truly, there she was, immediately in front of us, curtsey 
ing, and smiling, and saying, with her yesterday's air of 
patronage : 

" The wards in Jarndyce ! Ve-ry happy, I am sure ! " 

"You are out early, ma'am,'" said I, as she curtseyed 
to me. 

" Ye-es ! I usually walk here early. Before the Court 
sits. It's retired. I collect my thoughts here for the 
business of the day," said the old lady, mincingly. "The 
business of the day requires a great deal of thought. 
Chancery justice is so ve-ry difficult to follow." 1 

" Who's this, Miss Summerson ? " whispered Miss Jellyby, 
drawing my arm tighter through her own. 

The little old lady's hearing was remarkably quick. She 
answered for herself directly. 

" A suitor, my child. At your service. I have the honour 
to attend court regularly. With my documents. Have I 
the pleasure of addressing another of the youthful parties in 
Jarndyce ?" said the old lady, recovering herself, with her 
head on one side, from a very low curtsey. 

Richard, anxious to atone for his thoughtlessness of yester 
day, good-naturedly explained that Miss Jellyby was not 
connected with the suit. 

"Ha!' 1 said the old lady. "She does not expect a 
judgment? She will still grow old. But not so old. O 
dear, no ! This is the garden of Lincoln's Inn. I call it my 
garden. It is quite a bower in the summer-time. Where 
the birds sing melodiously. I pass the greater part of the 
long vacation here. In contemplation. You find the long 
vacation exceedingly long, don't you ? " 

We said yes, as she seemed to expect us to say so. 

" When the leaves are falling from the trees, and there are 
no more flowers in bloom to make up into nosegays for the 



60 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Ix>rd Chancellor's court," said the old lady, "the vacation is 

tilled; and the sixth seal, mentioned in the Revelations, 
in prevails. Pray come and see my lodging. It will be 
a good omen for me. Youth, and hope, and beauty, are 
very seldom there. It is a long long time since I had a visit 
from either/' 

She had taken my hand, and, leading me and Miss Jellyby 
away, beckoned Richard and Ada to come too. I did not 
know how to excuse myself, and looked to Richard for aid. 
As he was half amused and half curious, and all in doubt 
how to get rid of the old lady without offence, she continued 
to lead us away, and he and Ada continued to follow ; our 
strange conductress informing us all the time, with much 
smiling condescension, that she lived close by. 

It was quite true, as it soon appeared. She lived so close 
by, that we had not time to have done humouring her for a 
few moments, before she was at home. Slipping us out at a 
little side gate, the old lady stopped most unexpectedly in 
a narrow back street, part of some courts and lanes imme 
diately outside the wall of the Inn, and said, " This is my 
lodging. Pray walk up ! " 

She had stopped at a shop, over which was written, KROOK, 
RAG AND BOTTLE WAREHOUSE. Also, in long thin letters, 
KROOK, DEALER IN MARINE STORES. In one part of the 
window was a picture of a red paper mill, at which a cart 
was unloading a quantity of sacks of old rags* In another, 
was the inscription, BONES BOUGHT. In another, KITCHEN- 
STUFF BOUGHT. In another, OLD IRON BOUGHT. In another, 
WASTE PAPER BOUGHT. In another, LADIES' AND GENTLEMEN'S 
WARDROBES BOUGHT. Everything seemed to be bought, and 
nothing to be sold there. In all parts of the window, were 
quantities of dirty bottles : blacking bottles, medicine bottles, 
ginger-beer and soda-water bottles, pickle bottles, wine bottles, 
ink bottles: I am reminded by mentioning the latter, that 
the shop had, in several little particulars, the air of being 
in a legal neighbourhood, and of being, as it were, a dirty 



THE LITTLE OLD LADY'S LODGING. 61 

hanger-on and disowned relation of the law. There were a 
great many ink bottles. There was a little tottering bench 
of shabby old volumes, outside the door, labelled "Law 
Books, all at 9s?." Some of the inscriptions I have enume 
rated were written in law-hand, like the papers I had seen in 
Kenge and Carboy's office, and the letters I had so long 
received from the firm. Among them was one, in the same 
writing, having nothing to do with the business of the shop, 
but announcing that a respectable man aged forty-five wanted 
engrossing or copying to execute with neatness and despatch : 
Address to Nemo, care of Mr. Krook within. There were 
several second-hand bags, blue and red, hanging up. A little 
way within the shop-door, lay heaps of old crackled parch 
ment scrolls, and discoloured and dog's-eared law-papers. I 
could have fancied that all the rusty keys, of which there 
must have been hundreds huddled together as old iron, had 
once belonged to doors of rooms or strong chests in lawyers' 
offices. The litter of rags tumbled partly into and partly 
out of a one-legged wooden scale, hanging without any 
counterpoise from a beam, might have been counsellors' bands 
and gowns torn up. One had only to fancy, as Richard 
whispered to Ada and me while we all stood looking in, that 
yonder bones in a corner, piled together and picked very clean, 
were the bones of clients, to make the picture complete. 

As it was still foggy and dark, and as the shop was blinded 
besides by the wall of Lincoln's Inn, intercepting the light 
within a couple of yards, we should not have seen so much 
but for a lighted lantern that an old man in spectacles 
and a hairy cap was carrying about in the shop. Turning 
towards the door, he now caught sight of us. He was short, 
I ^cadaverous, and withered ; with his head sunk sideways 
between his shoulders, and the breath issuing in visible 
smoke from his mouth, as if he were on fire within. His 
throat, chin, and eyebrows were so frosted with white hairs, 
and so gnarled with veins and puckered skin, that he looked 
from his breast upward, like some old root in a fall of snow. 



(52 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"Hi hi!" said the old man coming to the door. "Have 
you anything to sell ? " 

We naturally drew back and glanced at our conductress, 
who had been trying to open the house-door with a key she 
had taken from her pocket, and to whom Richard now said, 
that, as we had had the pleasure of seeing where she lived, 
we would leave her, being pressed for time. But she was 
not to be so easily left. She became so fantastically and 
pressingly earnest in her entreaties that we would walk up, 
and see her apartment for an instant; and was so bent, in 
her harmless way, on leading me in, as part of the good 
omen she desired; that I (whatever the others might do) 
saw nothing for it but to comply. I suppose we were all 
more or less curious ; at any rate, when the old man added 
his persuasions to hers, and said, " Aye, aye ! Please her ! 
It won't take a minute ! Come in, come in ! Come in 
through the shop, if t'other door's out of order!" we all 
went in, stimulated by Richard's laughing encouragement, 
and relying on his protection. 

"My landlord, Krook," said the little old lady, conde 
scending to him from her lofty station, as she presented him 
to us. " He is called among the neighbours the Lord 
Chancellor. His shop is called the Court of Chancery. He 
is a very eccentric person. He is very odd. Oh, I assure 
you he is very odd ! " 

She shook her head a great many times, and tapped her 
forehead with her finger, to express to us that we must have 
the goodness to excuse him, " For he is a little you know ! 
M ! " said the old lady, with great stateliness. The old 
man overheard, and laughed. 

"It's true enough," he said, going before us with the 
lantern, "that they call me the Lord Chancellor, and call 
my shop Chancery. And why do you think they call me 
the Lord Chancellor, and my shop Chancery?" 

"I don't know, I am sure!" said Richard, rather care 
lessly. 



MR. KROOK. 63 

"You see," said the old man, stopping and turning round, 
they Hi ! Here's lovely hair ! I have got three sacks of 
ladies'* hair below, but none so beautiful and fine as this. 
What colour, and what texture ! " 

"That'll do, my good friend!'" said Richard, strongly 
disapproving of his having drawn one of Ada's tresses 
through his yellow hand. "You can admire as the rest of 
us do, without taking that liberty." 

The old man darted at him a sudden look, which even 
called my attention from Ada, who, startled and blushing, 
was so remarkably beautiful that she seemed to fix the 
wandering attention of the little old lady herself. But as 
Ada interposed, and laughingly said she could only feel 
proud of such genuine admiration, Mr. Krook shrunk into 
his former self as suddenly as he had leaped out of it. 

" You see I have so many things here," he resumed, holding 
up the lantern, " of so many kinds, and all, as the neighbours 
think (but they know nothing), wasting away and going to 
rack and ruin, that that's why they have given me and my 
place a christening. And I have so many old parchmentses 
and papers in my stock. And I have a liking for rust and 
must and cobwebs. And all's fish that comes to my net. 
And I can't abear to part with anything I once lay hold of 
(or so my neighbours think, but what do they know?) or to 
alter anything, or to have any sweeping, nor scouring, nor 
cleaning, nor repairing going on about me. That's the way 
I've got the ill name of Chancery. 7 don't mind. I go to 
see my noble and learned brother pretty well every day, when 
he sits in the Inn. He don't notice me, but I notice him. 
There's no great odds betwixt us. We both grub on in a 
muddle. Hi, Lady Jane ! " 

A large grey cat leaped from some neighbouring shelf on 
his shoulder, and startled us all. 

" Hi ! show 'em how you scratch. Hi ! Tear, my lady ! " 
said her master. 

The cat leaped down, and ripped at a bundle of rags with 



64 BLEAK HOUSE. 

her tigerish claws, with a sound that it set my teeth on edge 
to hear. 

"She'd do as much for any one I was to set her on," said 
the old man. "I deal in cat-skins among other general 
matters, and hers was offered to me. It's a very fine skin, 
as you may see, but I didn't have it stripped off! That 
warn't like Chancery practice though, says you ! " 

He had by this time led us across the shop, and now 
opened a door in the back part of it, leading to the house- 
entry. As he stood with his hand upon the lock, the little 
old lady graciously observed to him before passing out: 

"That will do, Krook. You mean well, but are tiresome. 
My young friends are pressed for time. I have none to spare 
myself, having to attend court very soon. My young friends 
are the wards in Jarndyce." 

" Jarndyce ! " said the old man with a start. 

" Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The great suit, Krook," returned 
his lodger. 

"Hi!" exclaimed the old man, in a tone of thoughtful 
amazement, and with a wider stare than before. "Think 
of it!" 

He seemed so rapt all in a moment, and looked so curiously 
at us, that Richard said : 

"Why you appear to trouble yourself a good deal about 
the causes before your noble and learned brother, the other 
Chancellor ! " 

" Yes," said the old man abstractedly. u Sure ! Your 
name now will be " 

" Richard Carstone." 

"Carstone," he repeated, slowly checking off that name 
upon his forefinger; and each of the others he went on to 
mention, upon a separate finger. "Yes. There was the 
name of Barbary, and the name of Clare, and the name of 
Dedlock, too, I think." 

"He knows as much of the cause as the real salaried 
Chancellor ! " said Richard, quite astonished, to Ada and me. 



THE STORY OF TOM JARNDYCE'S DEATH. 65 

" Ay ! " said the old man, coming slowly out of his 
abstraction. " Yes ! Tom Jarndyce you'll excuse me, 
being related; but he was never known about court by any 
other name, and was as well known there, as she is now ; " 
nodding slightly at his lodger; "Tom Jarndyce was often 
in here. He got into a restless habit of strolling about when 
the cause was on, or expected, talking to the little shop 
keepers, and telling 'em to keep out of Chancery, whatever 
they did. 'For, 1 says he, 'it's being ground to bits in a 
slow mill ; it's being roasted at a slow fire ; it's being stung 
to death by single bees; it's being drowned by drops; it's 
going mad by grains.' He was as near making away with 
himself, just where the young lady stands, as near could be." 

We listened with horror. 

" He come in at the door,*' said the old man, slowly point 
ing an imaginary track along the shop, "on the day he did 
it the whole neighbourhood had said for months before, 
that he would do it, of a certainty sooner or later he come 
in at the door that day, and walked along there, and sat 
.himself on a bench that stood there, and asked me (you'll 
judge I was a mortal sight younger then) to fetch him a 
pint of wine. ' For,' says he, ' Krook, I am much depressed ; 
my cause is on again, and I think I'm nearer judgment than 
I ever was.' I hadn't a mind to leave him alone; and I 
persuaded him to go to the tavern over the way there, t'other 
side my lane (I mean Chancery Lane); and I followed and 
looked in at the window, and saw him, comfortable as I 
thought, in the arm-chair by the fire, and company with 
him. I hadn't hardly got back here, when I heard a shot 
go echoing and rattling right away into the inn. I ran out 
neighbours ran out twenty of us cried at once, 'Tom 
Jarndyce!'" 

The old man stopped, looked hard at us, looked down into 
the lantern, blew the light out, and shut the lantern up. 

" We were right, I needn't tell the present hearers. Hi ! 
To be sure, how the neighbourhood poured into court that 

VOL. i. F 



66 BLEAK HOUSE. 

afternoon while the cause was on ! How my noble and 
learned brother, and all the rest of 'em, grubbed and muddled 
away as usual, and tried to look as if they hadn't heard a 
word of the last fact in the case ; or as if they had O dear 
nie ! nothing at all to do with it, if they had heard of it J 
by any chance ! " 

Ada's colour had entirely left her, and Richard was scarcely 
less pale. Nor could I wonder, judging even from my 
emotions, and I was no party in the suit, that to hearts so 
untried and fresh, it was a shock to come into the inheritance 
of a protracted misery, attended in the minds of many people 
with such dreadful recollections. I had another uneasiness, 
in the application of the painful story to the poor half-witted 
creature who had brought us there ; but, to my surprise, she 
seemed perfectly unconscious of that, and only led the way 
up-stairs again ; informing us, with the toleration of a superior 
creature for the infirmities of a common mortal, that her 
landlord was " a little M , you know ! " 

She lived at the top of the house, in a pretty large room, 
from which she had a glimpse of Lincoln's Inn Hall. This 
seemed to have been her principal inducement, originally, for 
taking up her residence there. She could look at it, she said, 
in the night : especially in the moonshine. Her room was 
clean, but very, very bare. I noticed the scantiest necessaries 
in the way of furniture; a few old prints from books, of 
Chancellors and barristers, wafered against the wall; and 
some half-dozen reticules and work-bags, " containing docu 
ments," as she informed us. There were neither coals nor 
ashes in the grate, and I saw no articles of clothing anywhere, 
nor any kind of food. Upon a shelf in an open cupboard 
were a plate or two, a cup or two, and so forth ; but all dry 
and empty. There was a more affecting meaning in her 
pinched appearance, I thought as I looked round, than I 
had understood before. 

"Extremely honoured, I am sure," said our poor hostess, 
with the greatest suavity, "by this visit from the wards in 



THE LITTLE OLD LADY'S BIRDS. 67 

Jamdyce. And very much indebted for the omen. It is a 
retired situation. Considering. I am limited as to situation. 
In consequence of the necessity of attending on the Chancellor* 
I have lived here many years. I pass my days in court; my 
evenings and my nights here. I find the nights long, for I 
sleep but little, and think much. That is, of course, unavoid 
able ; being in Chancery. I am sorry I cannot offer chocolate. 
I expect a judgment shortly, and shall then place my establish 
ment on a superior footing. At present, I don't mind con 
fessing to the wards in Jarndyce (in strict confidence), that 
I sometimes find it difficult to keep up a genteel appearance. 
I have felt the cold here. I have felt something sharper than 
cold. It matters very little. Pray excuse the introduction 
.of such mean topics." 

She partly drew aside the curtain of the long low garret- 
window, and called our attention to a number of bird-cages 
hanging there : some, containing several birds. There were 
larks, linnets, and goldfinches I should think at least 
twenty. 

" I began to keep the little creatures," she said, " with an 
object that the wards will readily comprehend. With the 
intention of restoring them to liberty. When my judgment 
should be given. Ye-es ! They die in prison, though. 
Their lives, poor silly things, are so short in comparison 
with Chancery proceedings, that, one by one, the whole 
collection has died over and over again. I doubt, do you 
know, whether one of these, though they are all young, will 
live to be free ! Ve-ry mortifying, is it not ? " 

Although she sometimes asked a question, she never seemed 
i to expect a reply; but rambled on as if she were in the 
| habit of doing so, when no one but herself was present. 

"Indeed," she pursued, "I positively doubt sometimes, I 

I do assure you, whether while matters are still unsettled, and 

1 the sixth or Great Seal still prevails, / may not one day be 

found lying stark and senseless here, as I have found so many 

birds!" 



68 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Richard, answering what he saw in Ada's compassionate 
eyes, took the opportunity of laying some money, softly and 
unobserved, on the chimney-piece. We all drew nearer to 
the cages, feigning to examine the birds. 

"I can't allow them to sing much," said the little old 
lady, " for (you'll think this curious) I find my mind confused 
by the idea that they are singing, while I am following the 
arguments in Court. And my mind requires to be so very 
clear, you know ! Another time, I'll tell you their names. 
Not at present. On a day of such good omen, they shall 
sing as much as they like. In honour of youth," a smile 
and curtsey; "hope," a smile and curtsey; "and beauty," 
a smile and curtsey. "There! We'll let in the full light." 

The birds began to stir and chirp. 

"I cannot admit the air freely," said the little old lady; 
the room was close, and would have been the better for it; 
" because the cat you saw down-stairs called Lady Jane 
is greedy for their lives. She crouches on the parapet out 
side for hours and hours. I have discovered," whispering 
mysteriously, "that her natural cruelty is sharpened by a 
jealous fear of their regaining their liberty. In consequence 
of the judgment I expect being shortly given. She is sly, 
and full of malice. I half believe, sometimes, that she is no 
cat, but the wolf of the old saying. It is so very difficult 
to keep her from the door." 

Some neighbouring bells, reminding the poor soul that it 
was half-past nine, did more for us in the way of bringing 
our visit to an end, than we could easily have done for our 
selves. She hurriedly took up her little bag of documents, 
which she had laid upon the table on coming in, and asked if 
we were also going into Court ? On our answering no, and 
that we would on no account detain her, she opened the 
door to attend us down-stairs. 

" With such an omen, it is even more necessary than usual 
that I should be there before the Chancellor comes in," said 
she, " for he might mention my case the first thing. I have, 



"A LITTLE M , YOU KNOW!" 69 

a presentiment that he will mention it the first thing this 
morning." 

She stopped to tell us, in a whisper, as we were going 
down, that the whole house was filled with strange lumber 
which her landlord had bought piecemeal, and had no wish 
to sell, in consequence of being a little M . This was on 
the first floor. But she had made a previous stoppage on 
the second floor, and had silently pointed at a dark door 
there. 

"The only other lodger, 11 she now whispered, in explana 
tion; "a law-writer. The children in the lanes here, say 
he has sold himself to the devil. I don't know what he can 
have done with the money. Hush ! " 

She appeared to mistrust that the lodger might hear her, 
even there ; and repeating " Hush ! " went before us on tip 
toe, as though even the sound of her footsteps might reveal 
to him what she had said. 

Passing through the shop on our way out, as we had passed 
through it on our way in, we found the old man storing a 
quantity of packets of waste paper, in a kind of well in the 
floor. He seemed to be working hard, with the perspiration 
standing on his forehead, and had a piece of chalk by him ; 
with which, as he put each separate package or bundle down, 
he made a crooked mark on the panelling of the wall. 

Richard and Ada, and Miss Jellyby, and the little old 
lady, had gone by him, and I was going, when he touched 
me on the arm to stay me, and chalked the letter J upon 
the wall in a very curious manner, beginning with the end 
of the letter, and shaping it backward. It was a capital 
letter, not a printed one, but just such a letter as any clerk 
in Messrs. Kenge and Carboy's office would have made. 

"Can you read it?" he asked me with a keen glance. 

" Surely," said I. " It's very plain." 

" What is it ? " 

"J." 

With another glance at me, and a glance at the door, he 



70 BLEAK HOUSE. 

rubbed it out, and turned an a in its place (not a capital 
letter this time), and said, "What's that? 11 

I told him. He then rubbed that out, and turned the 
letter r, and asked me the same question. He went on 
quickly, until he had formed, in the same curious manner, 
beginning at the ends and bottoms of the letters, the word 
JARNDYCE, without once leaving two letters on the wall 
together. 

"What does that spell? "-he asked me. 

When I told him, he laughed. In the same odd way, 
yet with the same rapidity, he then produced singly, and 
rubbed out singly, the letters forming the words BLEAK 
HOUSE. These, in some astonishment, I also read; and he 
laughed again. 

" Hi ! " said the old man, laying aside the chalk, " I have 
a turn for copying from memory, you see, miss, though I 
can neither read nor write/' 

He looked so disagreeable, and his cat looked so wickedly 
at me, as if I were a blood-relation of the birds up-stairs, 
that I was quite relieved by Richard's appearing at the door 
and saying: 

"Miss Summerson, I hope you are not bargaining for the 
sale of your hair. Don't be tempted. Three sacks below 
are quite enough for Mr. Krook ! " 

I lost no time in wishing Mr. Krook good morning, and 
joining my friends outside, where we parted with the little 
old lady, who gave us her blessing with great ceremony, 
and renewed her assurance of yesterday in reference to her 
intention of settling estates on Ada and me. Before we 
finally turned out of those lanes, we looked back, and saw 
Mr. Krook standing at his shop-door, in his spectacles, look 
ing after us, with his cat upon his shoulder, and her tail 
sticking up on one side of his hairy cap, like a tall feather. 

" Quite an adventure for a morning in London ! " said 
Richard, with a sigh. " Ah, cousin, cousin, it's a weary word 
this Chancery ! " 



SUPERIOR TO CHANCERY. 71 

"It is to me, and has been ever since I can remember," 
returned Ada. "I am grieved that I should be the enemy 
as I suppose I am of a great number of relations and 
others; and that they should be my enemies as I suppose 
they are; and that we should all be ruining one another, 
without knowing how or why, and be in constant doubt and 
discord all our lives. It seems very strange, as there must 
be right somewhere, that an honest judge in real earnest has 
not been able to find out through all these years where it is."" 

" Ah, cousin ! " said Richard. " Strange, indeed ! all this 
wasteful wanton chess-playing is very strange. To see that 
composed Court yesterday jogging on so serenely, and to 
think of the wretchedness of the pieces on the board, gave 
me the headache and the heartache both together. My head 
ached with wondering how it happened, if men were neither 
fools nor rascals; and my heart ached to think they could 
possibly be either. But at all events, Ada I may call 
you Ada?" 

" Of course you may, cousin Richard." 

"At all events, Chancery will work none of its bad 
influences on us. We have happily been brought together, 
thanks to our good kinsman, and it can't divide us now ! " 

" Never, I hope, cousin Richard ! " said Ada, gently. 

Miss Jellyby gave my arm a squeeze, and me a very 
significant look. I smiled in return, and we made the rest 
of the way back very pleasantly. 

In half an hour after our arrival, Mrs. Jellyby appeared; 
and in the course of an hour the various things necessary for 
breakfast straggled one by one into the dining-room. I do 
not doubt that Mrs. Jellyby had gone to bed, and got up in 
the usual manner, but she presented no appearance of having 
changed her dress. She was greatly occupied during break 
fast ; for the morning's post brought a heavy correspondence 
relative to Borrioboola-Gha, which would occasion her (she 
said) to pass a busy day. The children tumbled about, and 
notched memoranda of their accidents in their legs, which 



72 BLEAK HOUSE. 

were perfect little calendars of distress ; and Peepy was lost 
for an hour and a half, and brought home from Newgate 
market by a policeman. The equable manner in which Mrs. 
Jellyby sustained both his absence, and his restoration to 
the family circle, surprised us all. 

She was by that time perseveringly dictating to Caddy, 
and Caddy was fast relapsing into the inky condition in 
which we had found her. At one o^clock an open carriage 
arrived for us, and a cart for our luggage. Mrs. Jellyby 
charged us with many remembrances to her good friend, Mr. 
Jarndyce ; Caddy left her desk to see us depart, kissed me in 
the passage, and stood, biting her pen, and sobbing on the 
steps; Peepy, I am happy to say, was asleep, and spared the 
pain of separation (I was not without misgivings that he had 
gone to Newgate market in search of me) ; and all the other 
children got up behind the barouche and fell off, and we saw 
them with great concern, scattered over the surface of Thavies 
Inn, as we rolled out of its precincts. 



CHAPTER VI. 

QUITE AT HOME. 

THE day had brightened very much, and still brightened as 
we went westward. We went our way through the sunshine 
and the fresh air, wondering more and more at the extent of 
the streets, the brilliancy of the shops, the great traffic, and 
the crowds of people whom the pleasanter weather seemed to 
have brought out like many-coloured flowers. By-and-by we 
began to leave the wonderful city, and to proceed through 
suburbs which, of themselves, would have made a pretty large 
town, in my eyes ; and at last we got into a real country road 
again, with windmills, rickyards, milestones, farmers 1 waggons, 
scents of old hay, swinging signs and horse troughs : trees, 
fields, and hedgerows. It was delightful to see the green 
landscape before us, and the immense metropolis behind ; and 
when a waggon with a train of beautiful horses, furnished 
with red trappings and clear-sounding bells, came by us with 
its music, I believe we could all three have sung to the bells, 
so cheerful were the influences around. 

"The whole road has been reminding me of my namesake 
Whittington," said Richard, " and that waggon is the finishing 
touch. Halloa ! what's the matter ? " 

We had stopped, and the waggon had stopped too. Its 
music changed as the horses came to a stand, and subsided 
to a gentle tinkling, except when a horse tossed his head, or 
shook himself, and sprinkled off a little shower of bell- 
ringing. 



74 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"Our postilion is looking after the waggoner," said Richard; 
"and the waggoner is coming back after us. Good day, 
friend ! " The waggoner was at our coach-door. " Why, 
here's an extraordinary thing ! " added Richard, looking 
closely at the man. " He has got your name, Ada, in his 
hat!" 

He had all our names in his hat. Tucked within the band 
were three small notes ; one, addressed to Ada ; one, to 
Richard ; one, to me. These the waggoner delivered to each 
of us respectively, reading the name aloud first. In answer 
to Richard's inquiry from whom they came, he briefly 
answered, " Master, sir, if you please ; " and putting on his 
hat again (which was like a soft bowl), cracked his whip, re 
awakened his music, and went melodiously away. 

" Is that Mr. Jarndyce's waggon ? " said Richard, calling 
to our post-boy. 

" Yes, sir," he replied. " Going to London." 

We opened the notes. Each was a counterpart of the 
other, and contained these words, in a solid, plain hand. 

" I look forward, my dear, to our meeting easily, and without constraint on 
either side. I therefore have to propose that we meet as old friends, and take 
the past for granted. It will be a relief to you possibly, and to me certainly, 
and so iny love to you. 

"JOHN JARNDYCE." 

I had perhaps less reason to be surprised than either of 
my companions, having never yet enjoyed an opportunity of 
thanking one who had been my benefactor and sole earthly 
dependence through so many years. I had not considered 
how I could thank him, my gratitude lying too deep in my 
heart for that; but I now began to consider how I could 
meet him without thanking him, and felt it would be very 
difficult indeed. 

The notes revived, in Richard and Ada, a general impression 
that they both had, without quite knowing how they came 
by it, that their cousin Jarndyce could never bear acknow 
ledgments for any kindness he performed, and that, sooner 



NEARING BLEAK HOUSE. 75 

than receive any, he would resort to the most singular 
expedients and evasions, or would even run away. Ada dimly 
remembered to have heard her mother tell, when she was a 
very little child, that he had once done her an act of un 
common generosity, and that on her going to his house to 
thank him, he happened to see her through a window coming 
to the door, and immediately escaped by the back gate, and 
was not heard of for three months. This discourse led to a 
great deal more on the same theme, and indeed it lasted us 
all day, and we talked of scarcely anything else. If we did, 
by any chance, diverge into another subject, we soon returned 
to this; and wondered what the house would be like, and 
when we should get there, and whether we should see Mr. 
Jarndyce as soon as we arrived, or after a delay, and what 
he would say to us, and what we should say to him. AH 
of which we wondered about, over and over again. 

The roads were very heavy for the horses, but the pathway 
was generally good; so we alighted and walked up all the 
hills, and liked it so well that we prolonged our walk on the 
level ground when we got to the top. At Barnet there were 
other horses waiting for us; but as they had only just been 
fed, we had to wait for them too, and got a long fresh walk, 
over a common and an old battle-field, before the carriage 
came up. These delays so protracted the journey, that the 
short day was spent, and the long night had closed in, before 
we came to St. Albans ; near to which town Bleak House was, 
we knew. 

By that time we were so anxious and nervous, that even 
Richard confessed, as we rattled over the stones of the old 
street, to feeling an irrational desire to drive back again. 
As to Ada and me, whom he had wrapped up with great 
care, the night being sharp and frosty, we trembled from 
head to foot. When we turned out of the town, round a 
corner, and Richard told us that the post-boy, who had for 
a long time sympathised with our heightened expectation, 
was looking back and nodding, we both stood up in the 



70 BLEAK HOUSE. 

carriage (Richard holding Ada, lest she should be jolted 
down), and gazed round upon the open country and the 
starlight night, for our destination. There was a light 
sparkling on the top of a hill before us, and the driver, 
pointing to it with his whip, and crying, "That's Bleak 
House ! " put his horses into a canter, and took us forward 
at such a rate, up-hill though it was, that the wheels sent 
the road drift flying about our heads like spray from a 
water-mill. Presently we lost the light, presently saw it, 
presently lost it, presently saw it, and turned into an avenue 
of trees, and cantered up towards where it was beaming 
brightly. It was in a window of what seemed to be an 
old-fashioned house, with three peaks in the roof in front, 
and a circular sweep leading to the porch. A bell was 
rung as we drew up, and amidst the sound of its deep voice 
in the still air, and the distant barking of some dogs, and 
a gush of light from the opened door, and the smoking and 
steaming of the heated horses, and the quickened beating 
of our own hearts, we alighted in no inconsiderable con 
fusion. 

"Ada, my love, Esther, my dear, you are welcome. I 
rejoice to see you ! Rick, if I had a hand to spare at 
present, I would give it you ! " 

The gentleman who said these words in a clear, bright, 
hospitable voice, had one of his arms round Ada's waist, and 
the other round mine, and kissed us both in a fatherly way, 
and bore us across the hall into a ruddy little room, all in 
a glow with a blazing fire. Here he kissed us again, and, 
opening his arms, made us sit down side by side, on a sofa 
ready drawn out near the hearth. I felt that if we had been 
at all demonstrative, he would have run away in a moment. 

" Now, Rick ! " said he, " I have a hand at liberty. A word 
in earnest is as good as a speech. I am heartily glad to see 
you. You are at home. Warm yourself ! " 

Richard shook him by both hands with an intuitive 
mixture of respect and frankness, and only saying (though 



MR. JARNDYCE. 77 

with an earnestness that rather alarmed me, I was so afraid 
of Mr. Jarndyce's suddenly disappearing), " You are very 
kind, sir ! We are very much obliged to you ! " laid aside 
his hat and coat, and came up to the fire. 

" And how did you li-ke the ride ? And how did you like 
Mrs. Jellyby, my dear ? " said Mr. Jarndyce to Ada. 

While Ada was speaking to him in reply, I glanced (I 
need not say with how much interest) at his face. It was a 
handsome, lively, quick face, full of change and motion ; and 
his hair was a silvered iron-grey. I took him to be nearer 
sixty than fifty, but he was upright, hearty, and robust. 
From the moment of his first speaking to us, his voice had 
connected itself with an association in my mind that I could 
not define; but now, all at once, a something sudden in his 
manner, and a pleasant expression in his eyes, recalled the 
\ gentleman in the stage-coach, six years ago, on the memorable 
day of my journey to Reading. I was certain it was he. I 
never was so frightened in my life as when I made the 
discovery, for he caught my glance, and appearing to read 
my thoughts, gave such a look at the door that I thought 
we had lost him. 

However, I am happy to say he remained where he was, 
and asked me what I thought of Mrs. Jellyby ? 

" She exerts herself very much for Africa, sir," I said. 

" Nobly ! " returned Mr. Jarndyce. " But you answer like 
Ada." Whom I had not heard. " You all think something 
else, I see." 

" We rather thought," said I, glancing at Richard and 
Ada, who entreated me with their eyes to speak, "that 
perhaps she was a little unmindful of her home." 

" Floored ! " cried Mr. Jarndyce. 

I was rather alarmed again. 

" Well ! I want to know your real thoughts, my dear. I 
may have sent you there on purpose." 

" We thought that, perhaps," said I, hesitating, " it is 
right to begin with the obligations of home, sir; and that, 



78 BLEAK HOUSE. 

perhaps, while those are overlooked and neglected, no other 
duties can possibly be substituted for them."" 

"The little Jellybys," said Richard, coming to my relief, 
"are really I can't help expressing myself strongly, sir in 
a devil of a state." 

" She means well," said Mr. Jarndyce, hastily. " The 
wind's in the east." 

"It was in the north, sir, as we came down," observed 
Richard. 

" My dear Rick," said Mr. Jarndyce, poking the fire ; " Til 
take an oath it's either in the east, or going to be. I am 
always conscious of an uncomfortable sensation now and then 
when the wind is blowing in the east." 

" Rheumatism, sir ? " said Richard. 

"I dare say it is, Rick. I believe it is. And so the 
little Jell I had my doubts about 'em are in a oh, Lord, 
yes, it's easterly ! " said Mr. Jarndyce. 

He had taken two or three undecided turns up and down 
while uttering these broken sentences, retaining the poker in 
one hand and rubbing his hair with the other, with a good- 
natured vexation, at once so whimsical and so loveable, that 
I am sure we were more delighted with him than we could 
possibly have expressed in any words. He gave an arm to 
Ada and an arm to me, and bidding Richard bring a candle, 
was leading the way out, when he suddenly turned us all 
back again. 

"Those little Jellybys. Couldn't you didn't you now, 
if it had rained sugar-plums, or three-cornered raspberry 
tarts, or anything of that sort ! " said Mr. Jarndyce. 

u O, cousin ! " Ada hastily began. 

"Good, my pretty pet. I like cousin. Cousin John, 
perhaps, is better." 

"Then, cousin John! " Ada laughingly began again. 

" Ha, ha ! Very good indeed ! " said Mr. Jarndyce, with 
great enjoyment. " Sounds uncommonly natural. Yes, my 
dear?" 



AN OLD-FASHIONED HOUSE. 79 

" It did better than that. It rained Esther.*" 

" Ay ? " said Mr. Jarndyce. What did Esther do ? " 

"Why, cousin John," said Ada, clasping her hands upon 
his arm, and shaking her head at me across him for I 
wanted her to be quiet : " Esther was their friend directly. 
Esther nursed them, coaxed them to sleep, washed and 
dressed them, told them stories, kept them quiet, bought 
them keepsakes " My dear girl ! I had only gone out with 
Peepy, after he was found, and given him a little, tiny horse ! 
" and, cousin John, she softened poor Caroline, the eldest 
one, so much, and was so thoughtful for me and so amiable ! 
No, no, I won't be contradicted, Esther dear ! You know, 
you know, it's true ! " 

The warm-hearted darling leaned across her cousin John, 
and kissed me ; and then looking up in his face, boldly said, 
"At all events, cousin John, I will thank you for the 
companion you have given me." I felt as if she challenged 
him to run away. But he didn't. 

"Where did you say the wind was, Rick?" asked Mr. 
Jarndyce. 

" In the north, as we came down, sir." 

"You are right. There's no east in it. A mistake of 
mine. Come, girls, come and see your home ! " 

It was one of those delightfully irregular houses where you 
go up and down steps out of one room into another, and 
where you come upon more rooms when you think you have 
seen all there are, and where there is a bountiful provision 
of little halls and passages, and where you find still older 
cottage-rooms in unexpected places, with lattice windows 
and green growth pressing through them. Mine, which we 
entered first, was of this kind, with an up-and-down roof, 
that had more corners in it than I ever counted afterwards, 
and a chimney (there was a wood-fire on the hearth) paved 
all around with pure white tiles, in every one of which a 
bright miniature of the fire was blazing. Out of this room, 
you went down two steps, into a charming little sitting- 



80 BLEAK HOUSE. 

room, looking down upon a flower-garden, which room was 
henceforth to belong to Ada and me. Out of this you went 
up three steps, into Ada's bed-room, which had a fine broad 
window, commanding a beautiful view (we saw a great 
expanse of darkness lying underneath the stars), to which 
there was a hollow window-seat, in which, with a spring- 
lock, three dear Adas might have been lost at once. Out 
of this room, you passed into a little gallery, with which 
the other best rooms (only two) communicated, and so, by a 
little staircase of shallow steps, with a number of corner 
stairs in it, considering its length, down into the hall. But 
if, instead of going out at Ada's door, you came back into 
my room, and went out at the door by which you had 
entered it, and turned up a few crooked steps that branched 
off* in an unexpected manner from the stairs, you lost your 
self in passages, with mangles in them, and three-cornered 
tables, and a Native-Hindoo chair, which was also a sofa, a 
box, and a bedstead, and looked in every form, something 
between a bamboo skeleton and a great bird-cage, and had 
been brought from India nobody knew by whom or when. 
From these, you came on Richard's room, which was part 
library, part sitting-room, part bed-room, and seemed indeed 
a comfortable compound of many rooms. Out of that, you 
went straight, with a little interval of passage, to the plain 
room where Mr. Jarndyce slept, all the year round, with his 
window open, his bedstead without any furniture standing 
in the middle of the floor for more air, and his cold-bath 
gaping for him in a smaller room adjoining. Out of that, 
you came into another passage, where there were back-stairs, 
and where you could hear the horses being rubbed down, 
outside the stable, and being told to Hold up, and Get over, 
as they slipped about very much on the uneven stones. Or 
you might, if you came out at another door (every room 
had at least two doors), go straight down to the hall again 
by half-a-dozen steps and a low archway, wondering how 
you got back there, or had ever got out of it. 



OLD-FASHIONED FURNITURE. 81 

The furniture, old-fashioned rather than old, like the 
house, was as pleasantly irregular. Ada's sleeping-room was 
all flowers in chintz and paper, in velvet, in needlework, in 
the brocade of two stiff courtly chairs, which stood, each 
attended by a little page of a stool for greater state, on 
either side of the fireplace. Our sitting-room was green ; 
and had, framed and glazed, upon the walls, numbers of 
surprising and surprised birds, staring out of pictures at a 
real trout in a case, as brown and shining as if it had been 
served with gravy ; at the death of Captain Cook ; and at 
the whole process of preparing tea in China, as depicted by 
Chinese artists. In my room there were oval engravings of 
the months ladies haymaking, in short waists, and large 
hats tied under the chin, for June smooth-legged noblemen, 
pointing, with cocked-hats, to village steeples, for October. 
Half-length portraits, in crayons, abounded all through the 
house ; but were so dispersed that I found the brother of a 
youthful officer of mine in the china-closet, and the grey old 
age of my pretty young bride, with a flower in her bodice, 
in the breakfast-room. As substitutes, I had four angels, 
of Queen Anne's reign, taking a complacent gentleman to 
heaven, in festoons, with some difficulty ; and a composition 
in needlework, representing fruit, a kettle, and an alphabet. 
All the moveables, from the wardrobes to the chairs and 
tables, hangings, glasses, even to the pincushions and scent- 
bottles on the dressing-tables, displayed the same quaint 
variety. They agreed in nothing but their perfect neatness, 
their display of the whitest linen, and their storing-up, 
wheresoever the existence of a drawer, small or large, 
rendered it possible, of quantities of rose-leaves and sweet 
lavender. Such, with its illuminated windows, softened here 
and there by shadows of curtains, shining out upon the star 
light night; with its light, and warmth, and comfort; with 
its hospitable jingle, at a distance, of preparations for dinner; 
with the face of its generous master brightening everything 
we saw; and just wind enough without to sound a low 

VOL. I. G 



82 BLEAK HOUSE. 

accompaniment to everything we heard; were our first 
impressions of Bleak House. 

" I am glad you like it," said Mr. Jarndyce, when he had 
brought us round again to Ada's sitting-room. "It makes 
no pretensions; but it is a comfortable little place, I hope, 
and will be more so with such bright young looks in it. 
You have barely half an hour before dinner. There's no 
one here but the finest creature upon earth a child." 

" More children, Esther ! " said Ada. 

"I don't mean literally a child," pursued Mr. Jarndyce; 
"not a child in years. He is grown up he is at least as 
old as I am but in simplicity, and freshness, and enthusiasm, 
and a fine guileless inaptitude for all worldly affairs, he is a 
perfect child." 

We felt that he must be very interesting. 

"He knows Mrs. Jellyby," said Mr. Jarndyce. "He is a 
musical man ; an Amateur, but might have been a Pro 
fessional. He is an Artist, too; an Amateur, but might 
have been a Professional. He is a man of attainments and 
of captivating manners. He has been unfortunate in his 
affairs, and unfortunate in his pursuits, and unfortunate in 
his family; but he don't care he's a child!" 

"Did you imply that he has children of his own, sir?" 
inquired Richard. 

" Yes, Rick ! Half-a-dozen. More ! Nearer a dozen, I 
should think. But he has never looked after them. How 
could he? He wanted somebody to look after him. He is 
a child, you know ! " said Mr. Jarndyce. 

"And have the children looked after themselves at all, 
sir?" inquired Richard. 

" Why, just as you may suppose," said Mr. Jarndyce : his 
countenance suddenly falling. "It is said that the children 
of the very poor are not brought up, but dragged up. 
Harold Skimpole's children have tumbled up somehow or 
other. The wind's getting round again, I am afraid. I 
feel it rather!" 



ESTHER APPOINTED HOUSEKEEPER. 83 

Richard observed that the situation was exposed on a 
sharp night. 

"It is exposed," said Mr. Jarndyce. "No doubt that's 
the cause. Bleak House has an exposed sound. But you 
are coming my way. Come along!" 

Our luggage having arrived, and being all at hand, I was 
dressed in a few minutes, and engaged in putting my worldly 
goods away, when a maid (not the one in attendance upon 
Ada, but another whom I had not seen) brought a basket 
into my room, with two bunches of keys in it, all labelled. 

" For you, miss, if you please," said she. 

"For me?" said I. 

"The housekeeping keys, miss." 

I showed my surprise ; for she added with some little 
surprise on her own part: "I was told to bring them as 
soon as you was alone, miss. Miss Summerson, if I don't 
deceive myself?" 

"Yes," said I. "That is my name." 

"The large bunch is the housekeeping, and the little 
bunch is the cellars, miss. Any time you was pleased to 
appoint to-morrow morning, I was to show you the presses 
and things they belong to." 

I said I would be ready at half-past six; and, after she 
was gone, stood looking at the basket, quite lost in the 
magnitude of my trust. Ada found me thus; and had such 
a delightful confidence in me when I showed her the keys 
and told her about them, that it would have been insensi 
bility and ingratitude not to feel encouraged. I knew, to 
be sure, that it was the dear girl's kindness ; but I liked to 
be so pleasantly cheated. 

When we went down-stairs, we were presented to Mr. 
Skimpole, who was standing before the fire, telling Richard 
how fond he used to be, in his school-time, of football. He 
was a little bright creature, with a rather large head; but 
a delicate face, and a sweet voice, and there was a perfect 
charm in him. All he said was so free from effort and 



84 BLEAK HOUSE. 

spontaneous, and was said with such a captivating gaiety, 
that it was fascinating to hear him talk. Being of a more 
slender figure than Mr. Jarndyce, and having a richer com- ! 
plexion, with browner hair, he looked younger. Indeed, he 
had more the appearance, in all respects, of a damaged young 
man, than a well-preserved elderly one. There was an easy 
negligence in his manner, and even in his dress (his hair 
carelessly disposed, and his neck-kerchief loose and flowing, 
as I have seen artists paint their own portraits), which I 
could not separate from the idea of a romantic youth who 
had undergone some unique process of depreciation. It 
struck me as being not at all like the manner or appearance 
of a man who had advanced in life, by the usual road of 
years, cares, and experiences. 

I gathered from the conversation, that Mr. Skimpole had 
been educated for the medical profession, and had once lived, 
in his professional capacity, in the household of a German 
prince. He told us, however, that as he had always been 
a mere child in point of weights and measures, and had 
never known anything about them (except that they disgusted 
him), he had never been able to prescribe with the requisite 
accuracy of detail. In fact, he said, he had no head for 
detail. And he told us, with great humour, that when he 
was wanted to bleed the prince, or physic any of his people, 
he was generally found lying on his back, in bed, reading" 
.the newspapers, or making fancy-sketches in pencil, and 
couldn't come. The prince, at last objecting to this, "in 
which," said Mr. Skimpole, in the frankest manner, "he was 
.perfectly right, 11 the engagement terminated, and Mr. Skim 
pole having (as he added with delightful gaiety) "nothing 
.to live upon but love, fell in love, and married, and sur 
rounded himself with rosy cheeks. 11 His good friend Jarndyce 
and some other of his good friends then helped him,, in 
quicker or slower succession, to several openings in life; but) 
'to no purpose, for he must confess to two of the oldest 
infirmities in the world : one was, that he had no idea of 



MR. SKIMPOLE. 85 

time; the other, that he had no idea of money. In con 
sequence of which he never kept an appointment, never could 
transact any business, and never knew the value of anything ! 
Well ! So he had got on in life, and here he was ! He was 
very fond of reading the papers, very fond of making fancy- 
sketches with a pencil, very fond of nature, very fond of art. 
All he asked of society was, to let him live. That wasn't 
much. His wants were few. Give him the papers, conver 
sation, music, mutton, coffee, landscape, fruit in the season, 
a few sheets of Bristol-board, and a little claret, and he 
asked no more. He was a mere child in the world, but he 
didn't cry for the moon. He said to the world, " Go your 
several ways in peace ! Wear red coats, blue coats, lawn 
sleeves, put pens behind your ears, wear aprons; go after 
glory, holiness, commerce, trade, any object you prefer; only 
let Harold Skimpole live ! " 

All this, and a great deal more, he told us, not only with 
the utmost brilliancy and enjoyment, but with a certain 
vivacious candour speaking of himself as if he were not at 
all his own affair, as if Skimpole were a third person, as if 
he knew that Skimpole had his singularities, but still had 
his claims too, which were the general business of the com 
munity and must not be slighted. He was quite enchanting. 
If I felt at all confused at that early time, in endeavouring 
to reconcile anything he said with anything I had thought 
about the duties and accountabilities of life (which I am far 
from sure of), I was confused by not exactly understanding 
why he was free of them. That he was free of them, I 
scarcely doubted ; he was so very clear about it himself. 

"I covet nothing," said Mr. Skimpole, in the same light 
way. "Possession is nothing to me. Here is my friend 
Jarndyce's excellent house. I feel obliged to him for possess 
ing it. I can sketch it, and alter it. I can set it to music. 
When I am here, I have sufficient possession of it, and have 
neither trouble, cost, nor responsibility. My steward's name, 
in short, is Jarndyce, and he can't chqat me, We have been 



86 BLEAK HOUSE. 

mentioning Mrs. Jelly by. There is a bright-eyed woman, of 
a strong will and immense power of business-detail, who 
throws herself into objects with surprising ardour ! I don't 
regret that / have not a strong will and an immense power 
of business-detail, to throw myself into objects with surprising 
ardour. I can admire her without envy. I can sympathise 
with the objects. I can dream of them. I can lie down 
on the grass in fine weather and float along an African 
river, embracing all the natives I meet, as sensible of the 
deep silence, and sketching the dense overhanging tropical 
growth as accurately, as if I were there. I don't know that 
it's of any direct use my doing so, but it's all I can do, and 
I d6 it thoroughly. Then, for Heaven's sake, having Harold 
Skimpole, a confiding child, petitioning you, the world, an 
agglomeration of practical people of business habits, to let 
him live and admire the human family, do it somehow or 
other, like good souls, and suffer him to ride his rocking- 
horse ! " 

It was plain enough that Mr. Jarndyce had not been 
neglectful of the adjuration. 

Mr. Skimpole's general position there would have rendered 
it so, without the addition of what he presently said. 

"It's only you, the generous creatures, whom I envy," 
said Mr. Skimpole, addressing us, his new friends, in an 
impersonal manner. " I envy you your power of doing what 
you do. It is what I should revel in, myself. I don't feel 
any vulgar gratitude to you. I almost feel as if y&u ought 
to be grateful to me, for giving you the opportunity of en 
joying the luxury of generosity. I know you like it. For 
anything I can tell, I may have come into the world expressly 
for the purpose of increasing your stock of happiness. I 
may have been born to be a benefactor to you, by sometimes 
giving you an opportunity of assisting me in my little per 
plexities. Why should I regret my incapacity for details 
and worldly affairs, when it leads to such pleasant con 
sequences ? I don't regret it therefore " 



THE CHILD OF THE UNIVERSE. 87 

Of all his playful speeches (playful, yet always fully mean 
ing what they expressed) none seemed to be more to the 
taste of Mr. Jarndyce than this. I had often new temptations, 
afterwards, to wonder whether it was really singular, or only 
singular to me, that he, who was probably the most grateful 
of mankind upon the least occasion, should so desire to 
escape the gratitude of others. 

We were all enchanted. I felt it a merited tribute to the 
engaging qualities of Ada and Richard, that Mr. Skimpole, 
seeing them for the first time, should be so unreserved, and 
should lay himself out to be so exquisitely agreeable. They 
(and especially Richard) were naturally pleased for similar 
reasons, and considered it no common privilege to be so 
freely confided in by such an attractive man. The more we 
listened, the more gaily Mr. Skimpole talked. And what 
with his fine hilarious manner, and his engaging candour, 
and his genial way of lightly tossing his own weaknesses 
about, as if he had said, " I am a child, you know ! You 
are designing people compared with me;" (he really made 
me consider myself in that light;) "but I am gay and 
innocent ; forget your worldly arts and play with me ! " 
the effect was absolutely dazzling. 

He was so full of feeling too, and had such a delicate 
sentiment for what was beautiful or tender, that he could 
have won a heart by that alone. In the evening when I was 
preparing to make tea, and Ada was touching the piano in 
the adjoining room and softly humming a tune to her cousin 
Richard, which they had happened to mention, he came and 
sat down on the sofa near me, and so spoke of Ada that I 
almost loved him. 

"She is like the morning," he said. "With that golden 
hair, those blue eyes, and that fresh bloom on her cheek, she 
is like the summer morning. The birds here will mistake her 
for it. We will not call such a lovely young creature as 
that, who is a joy to all mankind, an orphan. She is the 
child of the universe." 



88 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Jarndyce, I found, was standing near us, with his 
hands behind him, and an attentive smile upon his face. 

" The universe, 1 ' he observed, " makes rather an indifferent 
parent, I am afraid." 

" O ! I don't know ! " cried Mr. Skimpole, buoyantly. 

"I think I do know," said Mr. Jarndyce. 

" Well ! " cried Mr. Skimpole, " you know the world (which 
in your sense is the universe), and I know nothing of it, so 
you shall have your way. But if I had mine," glancing at 
the cousins, " there should be no brambles of sordid realities 
in such a path as that. It should be strewn with roses ; it 
should lie through bowers, where there was no spring, autumn, 
nor winter, but perpetual summer. Age or change should 
never wither it. The base word money should never be 
breathed near it ! " 

Mr. Jarndyce patted him on the head with a smile, as if 
he had been really a child ; and passing a step or two on, and 
stopping a moment, glanced at the young cousins. His look 
was thoughtful, but had a benignant expression in it which I 
often (how often !) saw again : which has long been engraven 
on my heart. The room in which they were, communicating 
with that in which he stood, was only lighted by the fire. 
Ada sat at the piano ; Richard stood beside her, bending 
down. Upon the wall, their shadows blended together, 
surrounded by strange forms, not without a ghostly motion 
caught from the unsteady fire, though reflecting from motion 
less objects. Ada touched the notes so softly, and sang so 
low, that the wind, sighing away to the distant hills, was as 
audible as the music. The mystery of the future, and the 
little clue afforded to it by the voice of the present, seemed 
expressed in the whole picture. 

But it is not to recall this fancy, well as I remember it, 
that I recall the scene. First, I was not quite unconscious 
of the contrast in respect of meaning and intention, between 
the silent look directed that way, and the flow of words that 
had preceded it. Secondly, though Mr. Jarndyce's glance, as 



MR. SKIMPOLE IS "TOOK." 89 

he withdrew it, rested for but a moment on me, I felt as if, 
in that moment, he confided to me and knew that he con 
fided to me, and that I received the confidence his hope 
that Ada and Richard might one day enter on a dearer 
relationship. 

Mr. Skimpole could play on the piano, and the violoncello ; 
and he was a composer had composed half an opera once, 
but got tired of it and played what he composed with taste. 
After tea we had quite a little concert, in which Richard 
who was enthralled by Ada's singing, and told me that she 
seemed to know all the songs that ever were written and 
Mr. Jarndyce, and I, were the audience. After a little while 
I missed, first Mr. Skimpole, and afterwards Richard; and 
while I was thinking how could Richard stay away so long, 
and lose so much, the maid who had given me the keys looked 
in at the door, saying, " If you please, miss, could you spare 
a minute ? " 

When I was shut out with her in the hall, she said, hold 
ing up her hands, " Oh if you please, miss, Mr. Carstone says 
would you come up-stairs to Mr. Skimpole's room. He has 
been took, miss ! " 

"Took?" said I. 

"Took, miss. Sudden," said the maid. 

I was apprehensive that his illness might be of a dangerous 
kind ; but of course, I begged her to be quiet and not disturb 
any one ; and collected myself, as I followed her quickly up 
stairs, sufficiently to consider what were the best remedies to 
be applied if it should prove to be a fit. She threw open a 
door, and I went into a chamber ; where, to my unspeakable 
surprise, instead of finding Mr. Skimpole stretched upon the 
bed, or prostrate on the floor, I found him standing before 
the fire smiling at Richard, while Richard, with a face of 
great embarrassment, looked at a person on the sofa, in a 
white great-coat, with smooth hair upon his head and not 
much of it, which he was wiping smoother, and making less 
of, with a pocket-handkerchief. 



90 BLEAK HOUSEV 

"Miss Summerson," said Richard, hurriedly, "I am glad 
you are come. You will be able to advise us. Our friend, 
Mr. Skimpole don't be alarmed ! is arrested for debt. 11 

" And, really, my dear Miss Summerson, 11 said Mr. Skimpole, 
with his agreeable candour, "I never was in a situation, in 
which that excellent sense, and quiet habit of method and 
usefulness, which anybody must observe in you who has the 
happiness of being a quarter of an hour in your society, was 
more needed. 11 

The person on the sofa, who appeared to have a cold in, 
his head, gave such a very loud snort, that he startled me. 

"Are you arrested for much, sir? 11 I inquired of Mr. 
Skimpole. 

"My dear Miss Summerson, 11 said he, shaking his head 
pleasantly, " I don't know. Some pounds, odd shillings, and 
half-pence, I think, were mentioned. 11 

" It's twenty-four pound, sixteen, and seven-pence ha'penny, 1 ' 
observed the stranger. "That's wot it is. 11 

"And it sounds somehow it sounds, 11 said Mr. Skimpole^ 
"like a small sum? 11 

The strange man said nothing, but made another snort. It 
was such a powerful one, that it seemed quite to lift him out ; 
of his seat. 

"Mr. Skimpole, 11 said Richard to me, "has a delicacy in 
applying to my cousin Jarndyce, because he has lately I 
think, sir, I understood you that you had lately " 

" Oh, yes ! " returned Mr. Skimpole, smiling. " Though I 
forgot how much it was, and when it was. Jarndyce would 
readily do it again ; but I have the epicure-like feeling that 
I would prefer a novelty in help ; that I would rather, 11 and 
he looked at Richard and me, " develop generosity in a new 
soil, and in a new form of flower. 11 

" What do you think will be best, Miss Summerson ? " said 
Richard, aside. 

I ventured to inquire, generally, before replying, what 
would happen if the money were not produced. 



COAVINSES. 91 

"Jail," said the strange man, coolly putting his handker 
chief into his hat, which was on the floor at his feet. " Or 
Coavinses." 

"May I ask, sir, what is " 

"Coavinses?" said the strange man, "A 'ouse." 

Richard and I looked at one another again. It was a most 
singular thing that the arrest was our embarrassment, and not 
Mr. Skimpole's. He observed us with a genial interest; but 
there seemed, if I may venture on such a contradiction, 
nothing selfish in it. He had entirely washed his hands of 
the difficulty, and it had become ours. 

"I thought,'" he suggested, as if good-naturedly to help 
us out, " that being parties in a Chancery suit concerning 
(as people say) a large amount of property, Mr. Richard or 
his beautiful cousin, or both, could sign something, or make 
over something, or give some sort of undertaking, or pledge, 
or bond ? I don't know what the business name of it may 
be, but I suppose there is some instrument within their power 
that would settle this?",- 

"Not a bit on it," said the strange man. 

" Really ? " returned Mr. Skimpole. " That seems odd, 
now, to one who is no judge of these things!" 

" Odd or even," said the stranger, gruffly, " I tell you, not 
a bit on it ! " 

" Keep your temper, my good fellow, keep your temper ! " 
Mr. Skimpole gently reasoned with him, as he made a little 
drawing of his head on the fly-leaf of a book. " Don't be 
ruffled by your, occupation. We can separate you from your 
office ; we can separate the individual from the pursuit. We 
are not so prejudiced as to suppose that in private life you 
are otherwise than a very estimable man, with a great deal 
of poetry in your nature, of which you may not be conscious." 

The stranger only answered with another violent snort; 
whether in acceptance of the poetry-tribute, or in disdainful 
rejection of it, he did not express to me. 

"Now, my dear Miss Summerson, and my dear Mr. 



92 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Richard," said Mr. Skimpole, gaily, innocently, and con 
fidingly, as he looked at his drawing with his head on one 
side; "here you see me utterly incapable of helping myself, 
and entirely in your hands ! I only ask to be free. The 
butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold 
Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies ! " 

"My dear Miss Summerson," said Richard, in a whisper, 
" I have ten pounds that I received from Mr. Kenge. I must 
try what that will do." 

I possessed fifteen pounds, odd shillings, which I had saved 
from my quarterly allowance during several years. I had 
always thought that some accident might happen which 
would throw me, suddenly, without any relation, or any 
property, on the world ; and had always tried to keep some 
little money by me, that I might not be quite penniless. I 
told Richard of my having this little store, and having no 
present need of it ; and I asked him delicately to inform Mr. 
Skimpole, while I should be gone to fetch it, that we would 
have the pleasure of paying his debt. 

When I came back, Mr. Skimpole kissed my hand, and 
seemed quite touched. Not on his own account (I was again 
aware of that perplexing and extraordinary contradiction), 
but on ours; as if personal considerations were impossible 
with him, and the contemplation of our happiness alone 
affected him. Richard, begging me, for the greater grace of 
the transaction, as he said, to settle with Coavinses (as Mr. 
Skimpole now jocularly called him), I counted out the money 
and received the necessary acknowledgment. This, too, 
delighted Mr. Skimpole. 

His compliments were so delicately administered, that I 
blushed less than I might have done; and settled with the 
stranger in the white coat, without making any mistakes. 
He put the money in his pocket, and shortly said, " Well, 
then, I'll wish you a good evening, miss." 

"My friend," said Mr. Skimpole, standing with his back 
to the fire, after giving up the sketch when it was half 



NO POETRY! 93 

finished, "I should like to ask you something, without 
offence." 

I think the reply was, " Cut away, then ! " 

"Did you know this morning, now, that you were coming 
out on this errand ? " said Mr. Skimpole. 

" Know'd it yes'day aft'noon at tea-time," said Coavinses. 

"It didn't affect your appetite? Didn't make you at all 
uneasy ? " 

" Not a bit," said Coavinses. " I know'd if you wos missed 
to-day, you wouldn't be missed to-morrow. A day makes no 
such odds." 

" But when you came down here," proceeded Mr. Skimpole, 
"it was a fine day. The sun was shining, the wind was 
blowing, the lights and shadows were passing across the fields, 
the birds were singing." 

"Nobody said they warn't, in my hearing," returned 
Coavinses. 

"No," observed Mr. Skimpole. "But what did you think 
upon the road?" 

" Wot do you mean ? " growled Coavinses, with an appear 
ance of strong resentment. " Think ! I've got enough to 
do, and little enough to get for it, without thinking. 
Thinking ! w (with profound contempt). 

"Then you didn't think, at all events," proceeded Mr. 
Skimpole, "to this effect. 'Harold Skimpole loves to see 
the sun shine ; loves to hear the wind blow ; loves to watch 
the changing lights and shadows; loves to hear the birds, 
those choristers in Nature's great cathedral. And does it 
seem to me that I am about to deprive Harold Skimpole of 
his share in such possessions, which are his only birthright ! ' 
You thought nothing to that effect ? " 

" I certainly did NOT," said Coavinses, whose doggedness 
in utterly renouncing the idea was of that intense kind, that 
he could only give adequate expression to it by putting a 
long interval between each word, and accompanying the last 
with a jerk that might have dislocated his neck. 



94. BLEAK HOUSE. 

"Very odd and very curious, the mental process is, in you 
men of business ! " said Mr. Skimpole, thoughtfully. " Thank 
you, my friend. Good night." 

As our absence had been long enough already to seem 
strange down-stairs, I returned at once, and found Ada 
sitting at work by the fireside talking to her cousin John. 
Mr. Skimpole presently appeared, and Richard shortly after 
him. I was sufficiently engaged, during the remainder of the 
evening, in taking my first lesson in backgammon from Mr. 
Jarndyce, who was very fond of the game, and from whom 
I wished of course to learn it as quickly as I could, in order 
that I might be of the very small use of being able to play 
when he had no better adversary. But I thought, occasionally 
when Mr. Skimpole played some fragments of his own com 
positions; or when, both at the piano and the violoncello, 
and at our table,, he preserved, with an absence of all effort, 
his delightful spirits and his easy flow of conversation ; that 
Richard and I seemed to retain the transferred impression 
of having been arrested since dinner, and that it was very 
curious altogether. 

It was late before we separated : for when Ada was going 
at eleven o'clock, Mr. Skimpole went to the piano, and 
rattled, hilariously, that the best of all ways, to lengthen 
our days, was to steal a few hours from Night, my dear ! It 
was past twelve before he took his candle and his radiant 
face out of the room ; and I think he might have kept us 
there, if he had seen fit, until daybreak. Ada and Richard 
were lingering for a few moments by the fire, wondering 
whether Mrs. Jellyby had yet finished her dictation for the day, 
when Mr. Jarndyce, who had been out of the room, returned. 

" Oh, dear me, what's this, what's this ! " he said, rubbing 
his head and walking about with his good-humoured vexation. 
" What's this they tell me ? Rick, my boy, Esther, my dear, 
what have you been doing? Why did you do it? How 
could you do it? How much apiece was it? The wind's 
round again. I feel it all over me ! " 



THE EAST WIND RISES. 95 

We neither of us quite knew what to answer. 

"Come, Rick, come! I must settle this before I sleep. 
How much are you out of pocket? You two made the 
money up, you know ! Why did you ? How could you ? 
O Lord, yes, it's due east must be ! " 

"Really, sir," said Richard, "I don't think it would be 
honourable in me to tell you. Mr. Skimpole relied upon 
us " 

" Lord bless you, my dear boy ! He relies upon every 
body ! " said Mr. Jarndyce, giving his head a great rub, and 
stopping short. 

"Indeed, sir?" 

" Everybody ! And he'll be in the same scrape again, next 
week 1 " said Mr. Jarndyce, walking again at a great pace, 
with a candle in his hand that had gone out. " He's always 
in the same scrape. He was born in the same scrape. I 
verily believe that the announcement in the newspapers when 
his mother was confined, was * On Tuesday last, at her resi 
dence in Botheration Buildings, Mrs. Skimpole of a son in 
difficulties.' " 

Richard laughed heartily, but added, "Still, sir, I don't 
want to shake his confidence, or to break his confidence ; and 
if I submit to your better knowledge again, that I ought to 
keep his secret, I hope you will consider before you press me 
any more. Of course, if you do press me, sir, I shall know I 
am wrong, and will tell you." 

" Well ! " cried Mr. Jarndyce, stopping again, and making 
several absent endeavours to put his candlestick in his pocket. 
" I here ! Take it away, my dear. I don't know what I 
am about with it ; it's all the wind invariably has that effect 
I won't press you, Rick ; you may be right. But really 
to get hold of you and Esther and to squeeze you like a 
couple of tender young Saint Michael's oranges! It'll blow 
a gale in the course of the night ! " 

He was now alternately putting his hands into his pockets, 
as if he were going to keep them there a long time; and 



96 BLEAK HOUSE. 

taking them out again, and vehemently rubbing them all 
over his head. 

I ventured to take this opportunity of hinting that Mr. 
Skimpole, being in all such matters, quite a child 

" Eh, my dear ? " said Mr. Jarndyce, catching at the word. 

" Being quite a child, sir," said I, " and so different from 
other people " 

" You are right ! " said Mr. Jarndyce, brightening. " Your 
woman's wit hits the mark. He is a child an absolute child. 
I told you he was a child, you know, when I first mentioned 
him. 1 ' ' 

Certainly ! certainly ! we said. 

" And he i? a child. Now, isn't he ? " asked Mr. Jarndyce, 
brightening more and more. 

He was indeed, we said. 

" When you come to think of it, it's the height of childish 
ness in you I mean me " said Mr. Jarndyce, "to regard 
him for a moment as a man. You can't make him responsible. 
The idea of Harold Skimpole with designs or plans, or know 
ledge of consequences ! Ha, ha, ha ! " 

It was so delicious to see the clouds about his bright face 
clearing, and to see him so heartily pleased, and to know, as 
it was impossible not to know, that the source of his pleasure 
was the goodness which was tortured by condemning, or mis 
trusting, or secretly accusing any one, that I saw the tears 
in Ada's eyes, while she echoed his laugh, and felt them in 
my own. 

"Why, what a cod's head and shoulders I am," said Mr. 
Jarndyce, " to require reminding of it ! The whole business 
shows the child from beginning to end. Nobody but a child 
would have thought of singling you two out for parties in 
the affair ! Nobody but a child would have thought of your 
having the money ! If it had been a thousand pounds, it 
would have been just the same ! " said Mr. Jarndyce, with his 
whole face in a glow. 

We all confirmed it from our night's experience. 



THE WIND IS IN THE SOUTH. 97 

" To be sure, to be sure ! " said Mr. Jarndyce. " However, 
Rick, Esther, and you too, Ada, for I don't know that even 
your little purse is safe from his inexperience I must have a 
promise all round, that nothing of this sort shall ever be done 
any more. No advances ! Not even sixpences." 

We all promised faithfully ; Richard, with a merry glance 
at me, touching his pocket, as if to remind me that there was 
no danger of our transgressing. 

"As to Skimpole," said Mr. Jarndyce, "a habitable doll's 
house, with good board, and a few tin people to get into debt 
with and borrow money of, would set the boy up in life. He 
is in a child's sleep by this time, I suppose ; it's time I should 
take my craftier head to my more worldly pillow. Good night, 
my dears. God bless you ! " 

He peeped in again, with a smiling face, before we had 
lighted our candles, and said, " O ! I have been looking at 
the weather-cock. I find it was a false alarm about the wind. 
It's in the south ! " And went away singing to himself. 

Ada and I agreed, as we talked together for a little while 
up-stairs, that this caprice about the wind was a fiction ; and 
that he used the pretence to account for any disappointment 
he could not conceal, rather than he would blame the real 
cause of it, or disparage or depreciate any one. We thought 
this very characteristic of his eccentric gentleness ; and of the 
difference between him and those petulant people who make 
the weather and the winds (particularly that unlucky wind 
which he had chosen for such a different purpose) the stalk 
ing-horses of their splenetic and gloomy humours. 

Indeed, so much affection for him had been added in this 
one evening to my gratitude, that I hoped I already began to 
understand him through that mingled feeling. Any seeming 
inconsistencies in Mr. Skimpole, or in Mrs. Jellyby, I could 
not expect to be able to reconcile ; having so little experience 
or practical knowledge. Neither did I try ; for my thoughts 
were busy when I was alone, with Ada and Richard, and with 
the confidence I had seemed to receive concerning them. My 

VOL. I. H 



98 BLEAK HOUSE. 

fancy, made a little wild by the wind perhaps, would not 
consent to be all unselfish, either, though I would "have per 
suaded it to be so if I could. It wandered back to my god 
mother's house, and came along the intervening track, raising 
up shadowy speculations which had sometimes trembled there 
in the dark, as to what knowledge Mr. Jarndyce had of my 
earliest history even as to the possibility of his being my 
father though that idle dream was quite gone now. 

It was all gone now, I remembered, getting up from the 
fire. It was not for me to muse over bygones, but to act 
with a cheerful spirit and a grateful heart. So I said to 
myself, "Esther, Esther, Esther! Duty, my dear!" and 
gave my little basket of housekeeping keys such a shake, that 
they sounded like little bells, and rang me hopefully to bed. 






CHAPTER VII. 



WHILE Esther sleeps, and while Esther wakes, it is still wet 
weather down at the place in Lincolnshire. The rain is ever 
falling, drip, drip, drip, by day and night, upon the broad 
flagged terrace-pavement, The Ghost's Walk. The weather 
is so very bad, down in Lincolnshire, that the liveliest 
imagination can scarcely apprehend its ever being fine again. 
Not that there is any superabundant life of imagination on 
the spot, for Sir Leicester is not here (and, truly, even if he 
were, would not do much for it in that particular), but is in 
Paris, with my Lady; and solitude, with dusky wings, sits 
brooding upon Chesney Wold. 

There may be some motions of fancy among the lower 
animals at Chesney Wold. The horses in the stables the 
long stables in a barren, red-brick courtyard, where there is 
a great bell in a turret, and a clock with a large face, which 
the pigeons who live near it, and who love to perch upon 
its shoulders, seem to be always consulting they may con 
template some mental pictures of fine weather on occasions, 
and may be better artists at them than the grooms. The 
old roan, so famous for cross-country work, turning his large 
eyeball to the grated window near his rack, may remember 
the fresh leaves that glisten there at other times, and the 
scents that stream in, and may have a fine run with the 
hounds, while the human helper, clearing out the next stall, 
never stirs beyond his pitchfork and birch-broom. The grey, 



100 BLEAK HOUSE. 

whose place is opposite the door, and who, with an impatient 
rattle of his halter, pricks his ears and turns his head so 
wistfully when it is opened, and to whom the opener says, 
" Woa, grey, then, steady ! Noabody wants you to-day ! " 
may know it quite as well as the man. The whole seem 
ingly monotonous and uncompanionable half-dozen, stabled 
together, may pass the long wet hours, when the door is 
shut, in livelier communication than is held in the servants 1 
hall, or at the Dedlock Arms; or may even beguile the 
time by improving (perhaps corrupting) the pony in the 
loose-box in the corner. 

So the mastiff, dozing in his kennel, in the courtyard, 
with his large head on his paws, may think of the hot 
sunshine, when the shadows of the stable-buildings tire his 
patience out by changing, and leave him, at one time of the 
day, no broader refuge than the shadow of his own house, 
where he sits on end, panting and growling short, and very 
much wanting something to worry, besides himself and his 
chain. So, now, half- waking and all- winking, he may recall 
the house full of company, the coach-houses full of vehicles, 
the stables full of horses, and the out-buildings full of 
attendants upon horses, until he is undecided about the 
present, and comes forth to see how it is. Then, with that 
impatient shake of himself, he may growl in the spirit, 
" Rain, rain, rain ! Nothing but rain and no family here ! " 
as he goes in again, and lies down with a gloomy yawn. 

So with the dogs in the kennel-buildings across the park, 
who have their restless fits, and whose doleful voices, when 
the wind has been very obstinate, have even made it known 
in the house itself: up-stairs, down-stairs, and in my lady's 
chamber. They may hunt the whole country-side, while 
the raindrops are pattering round their inactivity. So the 
rabbits with their self-betraying tails, frisking in and out of 
holes at roots of trees, may be lively with ideas of the 
breezy days when their ears are blown about, or of those 
seasons of interest when there are sweet young plants to 



CHESNEY WOLD. 101 

gnaw. The turkey in the poultry-yard, always troubled 
with a class-grievance (probably Christmas), may be remi 
niscent of that summer-morning wrongfully taken from him, 
when he got into the lane among the felled trees, where 
there was a barn and barley. The discontented goose, who 
stoops to pass under the old gateway, twenty feet high, may 
gabble out, if we only knew it, a waddling preference for 
weather when the gateway casts its shadow on the ground. 

Be this as it may, there is not much fancy otherwise 
stirring at Chesney Wold. If there be a little at any odd 
moment, it goes, like a little noise in that old echoing place, 
a long way, and usually leads off to ghosts and mystery. 

It has rained so hard and rained so long, down in Lincoln 
shire, that Mrs. Rouncewell, the old housekeeper at Chesney 
Wold, has several times taken off her spectacles and cleaned 
them, to make certain that the drops were not upon 
the glasses. Mrs. Rouncewell might have been sufficiently 
assured by hearing the rain, but that she is rather deaf, 
which nothing will induce her to believe. She is a fine old 
lady, handsome, stately, wonderfully neat, and has such a 
back and such a stomacher, that if her stays should turn 
out when she dies to have 'been a broad old-fashioned family 
fire-grate, nobody who knows her would have cause to be 
surprised. Weather affects Mrs. Rouncewell little. The 
house is there in all weathers, and the house, as she expresses 
it, "is what she looks at."" She sits in her room (in a side 
passage on the ground floor, with an arched window com 
manding a smooth quadrangle, adorned at regular intervals 
with smooth round trees and smooth round blocks of stone, 
as if the trees were going to play at bowls with the stones), 
and the whole house reposes on her mind. She can open it 
on occasion, and be busy and fluttered ; but it is shut-up 
now, and lies on the breadth of Mrs. Rounceweirs iron- 
bound bosom, in a majestic sleep. 

It is the next difficult thing to an impossibility to imagine 
Chesney Wold without Mrs. Rouncewell, but she has only 



102 BLEAK HOUSE. 

been here fifty years. Ask her how long, this rainy day, 
and she shall answer "fifty year three months and a fort 
night, by the blessing of Heaven, if I live till Tuesday." 
Mr. Rouncewell died some time before the decease of the 
pretty fashion of pig-tails, and modestly hid his own (if he 
took it with him) in a corner of the churchyard in the park, 
near the mouldy porch. He was born in the market-town, 
and so was his young widow. Her progress in the family 
began in the time of the last Sir Leicester, and originated 
in the still-room. 

The present representative of the Dedlocks is an excellent 
master. He supposes all his dependants to be utterly bereft 
of individual characters, intentions, or opinions, and is per 
suaded that he was born to supersede the necessity of their 
having any. If he were to make a discovery to the contrary, 
he would be simply stunned would never recover himself, 
most likely, except to gasp and die. But he is an excellent 
master still, holding it a part of his state to be so. He 
has a great liking for Mrs. Rouncewell; he says she is a 
most respectable, creditable woman. He always shakes hands 
with her, when he comes down to Chesney Wold, and when 
he goes away ; and if he were very ill, or if he were knocked 
down by accident, or run over, or placed in any situation 
expressive of a Dedlock* at a disadvantage, he would say if 
he could speak, " Leave me, and send Mrs. Rouncewell here ! " 
feeling his dignity, at such a pass, safer with her than with 
anybody else. 

Mrs. Rouncewell has known trouble. She has had two 
sons, of whom the younger ran wild, and went for a soldier, 
and never came back. Even to this hour, Mrs. RouncewelFs 
calm hands lose their composure when she speaks of him, 
and unfolding themselves from her stomacher, hover about 
her in an agitated manner, as she says, what a likely lad, 
what a fine lad, what a gay, good-humoured, clever lad he 
was ! Her second son would have been provided for at 
Chesney Wold, and would have been made steward in due 



MRS. ROUNCEWELL AND HER GRANDSON. 103 

season ; but he took, when he was a schoolboy, to constructing 
steam-engines out of saucepans, -and setting birds to draw 
their own water, with the least possible amount of labour; 
so assisting them with artful contrivance of hydraulic pres 
sure, that a thirsty canary had only, in a literal sense, to 
put his shoulder to the wheel, and the job was done. This 
propensity gave Mrs. Rouncewell great uneasiness. She felt 
it with a mother's anguish, to be a move in the Wat Tyler 
direction : well knowing that Sir Leicester had that general 
impression of an aptitude for any art to which smoke and a 
tall chimney might be considered essential. But the doomed 
young rebel (otherwise a mild youth, and very persevering), 
showing no sign of grace as he got older; but, on the 
contrary, constructing a model of a power-loom, she was 
fain, with many tears, to mention his backslidings to the 
baronet. "Mrs. Rouncewell," said Sir Leicester. "I can 
never consent to argue, as you know, with any one on any 
subject. You had better get rid of your boy ; you had 
better get him into some Works. The iron country farther 
north is, I suppose, the congenial direction for a boy with 
these tendencies." Farther north he went, and farther north 
he grew up ; and if Sir Leicester Dedlock ever saw him, 
when he came to Chesney Wold to visit his mother, or ever 
thought of him afterwards, it is certain that he only regarded 
him as one of a body of some odd thousand conspirators, 
swarthy and grim, who were in the habit of turning out by 
torchlight, two or three nights in the week, for unlawful 
purposes. 

Nevertheless Mrs. RouncewelPs son has, in the course of 
nature and art, grown up, and established himself, and 
married, and called unto him Mrs. RouncewelPs grandson : 
who, being out of his apprenticeship, and home from a journey 
in far countries, whither he was sent to enlarge his knowledge 
and complete his preparations for the venture of this life, 
stands leaning against the chimney-piece this very day, in 
Mrs. Rounce well's room at Chesney Wold. 



104 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" And, again and ' again, I am glad to see you, Watt ! 
And, once again, I am glad to see you, Watt ! " says Mrs. 
Rouncewell." "You are a fine young fellow. You are like 
your poor uncle George. Ah ! " Mrs. RouncewelPs hands 
unquiet, as usual, on this reference. 

"They say I am like my father, grandmother/' 

"Like him, also, my dear, but most like your poor uncle 
George! And your dear father." Mrs. Rouncewell folds 
her hands again. " He is well ? " 

"Thriving, grandmother, in every way. 1 ' 

" I am thankful ! " Mrs. Rouncewell is fond of her son, 
but has a plaintive feeling towards him much as if he were 
a very honourable soldier, who had gone over to the enemy. 

" He is quite happy ? " says she. 

" Quite." 

" I am thankful ! So he has brought you up to follow in 
his ways, and has sent you into foreign countries and the 
,like? Well, he knows best. There may be a world beyond 
Chesney Wold that I don't understand. Though I am not 
young, either. And I have seen a quantity of good company 
too!" 

" Grandmother," says the young man, changing the subject, 
" what a very pretty girl that was, I found with you just 
now. You called her Rosa?" 

"Yes, child. She is daughter of a widow in the village. 
Maids are so hard to teach, now-a-days, that I have put 
her about me young. She's an apt scholar, and will do well. 
She shows the house already, very pretty. She lives with 
me at my table here." 

"I hope I have not driven her away ?" 

"She supposes we have family affairs to speak about, I 
dare say. She is very modest. It is a fine quality in a 
young woman. And scarcer," says Mrs. Rouncewell, expanding 
her stomacher to its utmost limits, " than it formerly was ! " 

The young man inclines his head, in acknowledgment of 
the precepts of experience. Mrs. Rouncewell listens. 



COMPANY TO SEE THE HOUSE. 105 

"Wheels!" says she. They have long been audible to 
the younger ears of her companion. " What wheels on such 
a day as this, for gracious sake?" 

After a short interval a tap at the door. "Come in! 1 ' 
A dark-eyed, dark-haired, shy, village beauty comes in so 
fresh in her rosy and yet delicate bloom, that the drops of 
rain, which have beaten on her hair, look like the dew upon 
a flower fresh gathered. 

"What company is this, Rosa? 1 " 1 says Mrs. Rouncewell. 

"It's two young men in a gig, ma'am, who want to see 
the house yes, and if you please, I told them so ! " in quick 
reply to a gesture of dissent from the housekeeper. "I 
went to the hall-door, and told them it was the wrong day, 
and the wrong hour; but the young man who was driving 
took off his hat in the wet, and begged me to bring this 
card to you.*" 

" Read it, my dear Watt," says the housekeeper. 

Rosa is so shy as she gives it to him, that they drop it 
between them, and almost knock their foreheads together as 
they pick it up. Rosa is shyer than before. 

"Mr. Guppy" is all the information the card yields. 

" Guppy ! " repeats Mrs. Rouncewell. " Mr. Guppy ! Non 
sense, I never heard of him ! " 

" If you please, he told me that ! " says Rosa. " But he 
said that he and the other young gentleman came from 
London only last night by the mail, on business at the 
magistrates' meeting, ten miles off, this morning; and that 
as their business was soon over, and they had heard a great 
deal said of Chesney Wold, and really didn't know what to 
do with themselves, they had come through the wet to see it. 
They are lawyers. He says he is not in Mr. Tulkinghorn's 
office, but he is sure he may make use of Mr. Tulkinghorn's 
name, if necessary." Finding, now she leaves off. that she 
has been making quite a long speech, Rosa is shyer than ever. 

Now, Mr. Tulkinghorn is, in a manner, part and parcel 
of the place; and, besides, is supposed to have made Mrs. 



106 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Rounce well's will. The old lady relaxes, consents to the 
admission of the visitors as a favour, and dismisses Rosa. 
The grandson, however, being smitten by a sudden wish to 
see the house himself, proposes to join the party. The 
grandmother, who is pleased that he should have that interest, 
accompanies him though to do him justice, he is exceedingly 
unwilling to trouble her. 

" Much obliged to you, ma'am ! " says Mr. Guppy, divesting 
himself of his wet dreadnought in the hall. " Us London 
lawyers don't often get an out; and when we do, we like to 
make the most of it, you know." 

The old housekeeper, with a gracious severity of deport 
ment, waves her hand towards the great staircase. Mr. 
Guppy and his friend follow Rosa, Mrs. Rouncewell and her 
grandson follow them, a young gardener goes before to open 
the shutters. 

As is usually the case with people who go over houses, 
Mr. Guppy and his friend are dead beat before they have 
well begun. They straggle about in wrong places, look at 
wrong things, don't care for the right things, gape when 
more rooms are opened, exhibit profound depression of spirits, 
and are clearly knocked up. In each successive chamber that 
they enter, Mrs. Rouncewell, who is as upright as the house 
itself, rests apart in a window-seat, or other such nook, and 
listens with stately approval to Rosa's exposition. Her grand 
son is so attentive to it, that Rosa is shyer than ever and 
prettier. Thus they pass on from room to room, raising 
the pictured Dedlocks for a few brief minutes as the young 
gardener admits the light, and reconsigning them to their 
graves as he shuts it out again. It appears to the afflicted 
Mr. Guppy and his inconsolable friend, that there is no end 
to the Dedlocks, whose family greatness seems to consist in 
their never having done anything to distinguish themselves, 
for seven hundred years. 

Even the long drawing-room of Chesney Wold cannot 
revive Mr. Guppy 's spirits. He is so low that he droops 



PORTRAIT OF LADY DEBLOCK. 107 

on the threshold, and has hardly strength of mind to enter. 
But a portrait over the chimney-piece, painted by the fashion 
able artist of the day, acts upon him like a charm. He 
recovers in a moment. He stares at it with uncommon 
interest; he seems to be fixed and fascinated by it. 

" Dear me ! " says Mr. Guppy. " Who's that ? " 

"The picture over the fireplace," says Rosa, "is the 
portrait of the present Lady Dedlock. It is considered a 
perfect likeness, and the best work of the master." 

" 'Blest ! " says Mr. Guppy, staring in a kind of dismay 
at his friend, " if I can ever have seen her. Yet I know 
her ! Has the picture been engraved, miss ? " 

"The picture has never been engraved. Sir Leicester has 
always refused permission." 

" Well ! " says Mr. Guppy in a low voice, " I'll be shot if 
it ain't very curious how well I know that picture ! So that's 
Lady Dedlock, is it ! " 

"The picture on the right is the present Sir Leicester 
Dedlock. The picture on the left is his father, the late Sir 
Leicester." 

Mr. Guppy has no eyes for either of these magnates. 
"It's unaccountable to me," he says, still staring at the 
portrait, " how well I know that picture ! I'm dashed ! " 
adds Mr. Guppy, looking round, "if I don't think I must 
have had a dream of that picture, you know ! " 

As no one present takes any especial interest in Mr. Guppy's 
dreams, the probability is not pursued. But he still remains 
so absorbed by the portrait, that he stands immoveable before 
it until the young gardener has closed the shutters; when 
he comes out of the room in a dazed state, that is an odd 
though a sufficient substitute for interest, and follows into 
the succeeding rooms with a confused stare, as if he were 
looking everywhere for Lady Dedlock again. 

He sees no more of her. He sees her rooms, which are 
the last shown, as being very elegant, and he looks out of the 
windows from which she looked out, not long ago, upon 



108 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the weather that bored her to death. All things have an 
end even houses that people take infinite pains to see, and 
are tired of before they begin to see them. He has come to 
the end of the sight, and the fresh village beauty to the end 
of her description ; which is always this : 

"The terrace below is much admired. It is called, from 
an old story in the family, The Ghost's Walk/' 

"No?" says Mr. Guppy, greedily curious; "what's the 
story, miss ? Is it anything about a picture ? " 

" Pray tell us the story," says Watt, in a half whisper. 

" I don't know it, sir." Rosa is shyer than ever. 

" It is not related to visitors ; it is almost forgotten," says 
the housekeeper, advancing. "It has never been more than 
a family anecdote." 

"You'll excuse my asking again if it has anything to do 
with a picture, ma'am," observes Mr. Guppy, "because I do 
assure you that the more J think of that picture the better 
I know it, without knowing how I know it ! " 

The story has nothing to do with a picture; the house 
keeper can guarantee that. Mr. Guppy is obliged to her 
for the information ; and is, moreover, generally obliged. 
He retires with his friend, guided down another staircase by 
the young gardener; and presently is heard to drive away. 
It is now dusk. Mrs. Rouncewell can trust to the discretion 
of her two young hearers, and may tell them how the terrace 
came to have that ghostly name. She seats herself in a large 
chair by the fast-darkening window, and tells them : 

"In the wicked days, my dears, of King Charles the First 
I mean, of course, in the wicked days of the rebels who 
leagued themselves against that excellent King Sir Morbury 
Dedlock was the owner of Chesney Wold. Whether there 
was any account of a ghost in the family before those days, 
I can't say. I should think it very likely indeed." 

Mrs. Rouncewell holds this opinion, because she considers 
that a family of such antiquity and importance has a right 
to a ghost. She regards a ghost as one of the privileges of 



THE LEGEND OF THE GHOSTS WALK. 109 

the upper classes ; a genteel distinction to which the common 
people have no claim. 

"Sir Morbury Dedlock," says Mrs. Rouncewell, "was, I 
have no occasion to say, on the side of the blessed martyr. 
But it is supposed that his Lady, who had none of the 
family blood in her veins, favoured the bad cause. It is said 
that she had relations among King Charleses enemies : that 
she was in correspondence with them ; and that she gave 
them information. When any of the country gentlemen who 
followed His Majesty 's cause met here, it is said that my 
Lady was always nearer to the door of their council-room 
than they supposed. Do you hear a sound like a footstep 
passing along the terrace, Watt?*" 

Rosa draws nearer to the housekeeper. 

"I hear the rain-drip on the stones, 1 ' replies the young 
man, "and I hear a curious echo I suppose an echo which 
is very like a halting step." 

The housekeeper gravely nods and continues : 

"Partly on account of this division between them, arid 
partly on other accounts, Sir Morbury and his Lady led a 
troubled life. She was a lady of a haughty temper. They 
were not well suited to each other in age or character, and 
they had no children to moderate between them. After her 
favourite brother, a young gentleman, was killed in the civil 
wars (by Sir Morbury's near kinsman), her feeling was so 
violent that she hated the race into which she had married. 
When the Dedlocks were about to ride out from Chesney 
Wold in the King's cause, she is supposed to have more than 
once stolen down into the stables in the dead of night, and 
lamed their horses : and the story is, that once, at such an 
hour, her husband saw her gliding down the stairs and 
followed her into the stall where his own favourite horse 
stood. There he seized her by the -wrist ; and in a struggle 
or in a fall, or through the horse being frightened and lashing 
out, she was lamed in the hip, and from that hour began to 
pine away/ 1 



110 BLEAK HOUSE. 

The housekeeper has dropped her voice to a little more 
than a whisper. 

"She had been a lady of a handsome figure and a noble 
carnage. She never complained of the change; she never 
spoke to any one of being crippled, or of being in pain ; but, 
day by day, she tried to walk upon the terrace ; and with the 
help of the stone balustrade, went up and down, up and 
down, up and down, in sun and shadow, with greater difficulty 
every day. At last, one afternoon, her husband (to whom 
she had never, on any persuasion, opened her lips since that 
night), standing at the great south window, saw her drop 
upon the pavement. He hastened down to raise her, but 
she repulsed him as he bent over her, and looking at him 
fixedly and coldly, said 'I will die here where I have walked. 
And I will walk here, though I am in my grave. I will 
walk here, until the pride of this house is humbled. And 
when calamity, or when disgrace is coming to it, let the 
Dedlocks listen for my step ! ' ' 

Watt looks at Rosa. Rosa in the deepening gloom looks 
down upon the ground, half frightened and half shy, 

"There and then she died. And from those days," says 
Mrs. Rouncewell, " the name has come down The Ghost's 
Walk. If the tread is an echo, it is an echo that is only 
heard after dark, and is often unheard for a long while 
together. But it comes back, from time to time; and so 
sure as there is sickness or death in the family, it will be 
heard then." 

" And disgrace, grandmother " says Watt. 

"Disgrace never comes to Chesney Wold," returns the 
housekeeper. 

Her grandson apologises, with " True. True." 

" That is the story. Whatever the sound is, it is a 
worrying sound," says Mrs. Rouncewell, getting up from her 
chair, "and what is to be noticed in it, is, that it must be 
heard. My Lady, who is afraid of nothing, admits that when 
it is there, it must be heard. You cannot shut it out. 



THE SOUND UPON THE TERRACE. Ill 

AVatt, there is a tall French clock behind you (placed there, 
'a purpose) that has a loud beat when it is in motion, and 
can play music. You understand how those things are 
managed ? " 

" Pretty well, grandmother, I think. 1 ' 

" Set it a-going." 

Watt sets it a-going music and all. 

" Now, come hither,*" says the housekeeper. " Hither, 
child, towards my Lady's pillow. I am not sure that it is 
dark enough yet, but listen ! Can you hear the sound upon 
the terrace, through the music, and the beat, and every 
thing?" 

" I certainly can ! " 

"So my Lady says." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

COVERING A MULTITUDE OF SINS. 

IT was interesting when I dressed before daylight, to peep 
out of window, where my candles were reflected in the 
black panes like two beacons, and, finding all beyond still 
enshrouded in the indistinctness of last night, to watch how 
it turned out when the day came on. As the prospect 
gradually revealed itself, and disclosed the scene over which 
the wind had wandered in the dark, like my memory over 
my life, I had a pleasure in discovering the unknown objects 
that had been around me in my sleep. At first they were 
faintly discernible in the mist, and above them the later 
stars still glimmered. That pale interval over, the picture 
began to enlarge and fill up so fast, that, at every new peep, 
I could have found enough to look at for an hour. Imper 
ceptibly, my candles became the only incongruous part of 
the morning, the dark places in my room all melted away, 
and the day shone bright upon a cheerful landscape, prominent 
in which the old Abbey Church, with its massive tower, 
threw a softer train of shadow on the view than seemed 
compatible with its rugged character. But so from rough 
outsides (I hope I have learnt), serene and gentle influences 
often proceed. 

Every part of the house was in such order, and every one 
was so attentive to me, that I had no trouble with my two 
bunches of keys : though what with trying to remember the 
contents of each little store-room drawer, and cupboard; 



MORE AT HOME IN BLEAK HOUSE. 113 

and what with making notes on a slate about jams, arid 
pickles, and preserves, and bottles, and glass, and china, and 
a great many other things ; and what with being generally 
a methodical, old-maidish sort of foolish little person ; I was 
so busy that I could not believe it was breakfast-time when 
I heard the bell ring. Away I ran, however, and made tea, 
as I had already been installed into the responsibility of the 
teapot ; and then, as they were all rather late, and nobody 
was down yet, I thought I would take a peep at the garden 
and get some knowledge of that too. I found it quite a 
delightful place; in front, the pretty avenue and drive by 
which we had approached (and where, by-the-bye, we had 
cut up the gravel so terribly with our wheels that I asked 
the gardener to roll it) ; at the back, the flower-garden, with 
my darling at her window up there, throwing it open to 
smile out at me, as if she would have kissed me from that 
distance. Beyond the flower-garden was a kitchen-garden, 
and then a paddock, and then a snug little rick-yard, and 
then a dear little farm-yard. As to the House itself, with its 
three peaks in the roof; its various-shaped windows, some 
so large, some so small, and all so pretty ; its trellis-work, 
against the south-front for roses and honey-suckle, and its 
homely, comfortable, welcoming look : it was, as Ada said, 
when she came out to meet me with her arm through that 
of its master, worthy of her cousin John a bold thing to 
say, though he only pinched her dear cheek for it. 

Mr. Skimpole was as agreeable at breakfast, as he had 
been over-night. There was honey on the table, and it led 
him into a discourse about Bees. He had no objection to 
honey, he said (and I should think he had not, for he seemed 
to like it), but he protested against the overweening assump 
tions of Bees. He didn't at all see why the busy Bee should 
be proposed as a model to him ; he supposed the Bee liked to 
make honey, or he wouldn't do it nobody asked him. It was 
not necessary for the Bee to make such a merit of his tastes. 
If every confectioner went buzzing about the world, banging 

VOL. I. I 



114 BLEAK HOUSE. 

against everything that came in his way, and egotistically 
calling upon everybody to take notice that he was going to 
his work and must not be interrupted, the world would be 
quite an unsupportable place. Then, after all, it was a 
ridiculous position, to be smoked out of your fortune with 
brimstone, as soon as you had made it. You would have a 
very mean opinion of a Manchester man, if he spun cotton 
for no other purpose. He must say he thought a Drone the 
embodiment of a pleasanter and wiser idea. The Drone said, 
unaffectedly, " You will excuse me ; I really cannot attend to 
the shop ! I find myself in a world in which there is so much 
to see, and so short a time to see it in, that I must take 
the liberty of looking about me, and begging to be provided 
for by somebody who doesn't want to look about him. 1 ' 
This appeared to Mr. Skimpole to be the Drone philosophy, 
and he thought it a very good philosophy always supposing 
the Drone to be willing to be on good terms with the Bee : 
which, so far as he knew, the easy fellow always was, if the 
consequential creature would only let him, and not be so 
conceited about his honey ! 

He pursued this fancy with the lightest foot over a variety 
of ground, and made us all merry ; though again he seemed 
to have as serious a meaning in what he said as he was capable 
of having. I left them still listening to him, when I with 
drew to attend to my new duties. They had occupied me for 
some time, and I was passing through the passages on my 
return with my basket of keys on my arm, when Mr. Jarndyce 
called me into a small room next his bed-chamber, which I 
found to be in part a little library of books and papers, and 
in part quite a little museum of his boots and shoes, and 
hat-boxes. 

" Sit down, my dear," said Mr. Jarndyce. " This, you 
must know, is the Growlery. When I am out of humour, I 
come and growl here." 

" You must be here very seldom, sir," said I. 

" O, you don't know me ! " he returned. " When I ana 



THE GROWLERY. 115 

deceived or disappointed in the wind, and it's Easterly, I 
take refuge here. The Growlery is the best-used room in the 
house. You are not aware of half my humours yet. My 
dear, how you are trembling ! " 

I could not help it : I tried very hard : but being alone 
with that benevolent presence, and meeting his kind eyes, 
and feeling so happy, and so honoured there, and my heart 
so full 

I kissed his hand. I don't know what I said, or even that 
I spoke. He was disconcerted, and walked to the window ; I 
almost believed with an intention of jumping out, until he 
turned, and I was reassured by seeing in his eyes what he 
had gone there to hide. He gently patted me on the head, 
and I sat down. 

" There ! There ! " he said. " That's over. Pooh ! Don't 
be foolish." 

"It shall not happen again, sir," I returned, "but at first 
it is difficult " 

" Nonsense ! " he said, " it's easy, easy. Why not ? I 
hear of a good little orphan girl without a protector, and I 
take it into my head to be that protector. She grows up, 
and more than justifies my good opinion, and I remain her 
guardian and her friend. What is there in all this ? So, so ! 
Now, we have cleared off old scores, and I have before me 
thy pleasant, trusting, trusty face again." 

I said to myself, " Esther, my dear, you surprise me ! 
This really is not what I expected of you ! " and it had such 
a good effect, that I folded my hands upon my basket and 
quite recovered myself. Mr. Jarndyce, expressing his approval 
in his face, began to talk to me as confidentially as if I had 
been in the habit of conversing with him every morning for 
I don't know how long. I almost felt as if I had. 

" Of course, Esther," he said, " you don't understand this 
Chancery business?" 

And of course I shook my head. 

" 1 don't know who does," he returned. " The Lawyers 



116 BLEAK HOUSE. 

have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the 
original merits of the case have long disappeared from the 
face of the earth. It's about a Will, and the trusts under a 
"Will or it was, once. It's about nothing but Costs, now. 
We are always appearing, and disappearing, and swearing, 
and interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, 
and sealing, and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and 
revolving about the Lord Chancellor and all his satellites, and 
equitably waltzing ourselves off to dusty death, about Costs. 
That's the great question. All the rest, by some extra 
ordinary means, has melted away/' 

" But it was, sir," said I, to bring him back, for he began 
to rub his head, "about a Will?" 

"Why, yes, it was about a Will when it was about any 
thing," he returned. "A certain Jarndyce, in an evil hour, 
made a great fortune, and made a great Will. In the question 
how the trusts under that Will are to be administered, the 
fortune left by the Will is squandered away; the legatees 
under the Will are reduced to such a miserable condition that 
they would be sufficiently punished, if they had committed an 
enormous crime in having money left them; and the Will 
itself is made a dead letter. All through the deplorable 
cause, everything that everybody in it, except one man, 
knows already, is referred to that only one man who don't 
know it, to find out all through the deplorable cause, every 
body must have copies, over and over again, of everything 
that has accumulated about it in the way of cartloads of 
papers (or must pay for them without having them, which is 
the usual course, for nobody wants them) ; and must go down 
the middle and up again, through such an infernal country- 
dance of costs and fees and nonsense and corruption, as was 
never dreamed of in the wildest visions of a Witch's Sabbath. 
Equity sends questions to Law, Law sends questions back to 
Equity ; Law finds it can't do this, Equity finds it can't do 
that; neither can so much as say it can't do anything, 
without this solicitor instructing and this counsel appearing 



A WILL AND NO WAY. 117 

for A, and that solicitor instructing and that counsel appear 
ing for B; and so on through the whole alphabet, like the 
history of the Apple Pie. And thus, through years and 
years, and lives and lives, everything goes on, constantly 
beginning over and over again, and nothing ever ends. And 
we can't get out of the suit on any terms, for we are made 
parties to it, and must be parties to it, whether we like it or 
not. But it won't do to think of it ! When my great 
uncle, poor Tom Jarndyce, began to think of it, it was the 
beginning of the end ! " 

" The Mr. Jarndyce, sir, whose story I have heard ? " 

He nodded gravely. " I was his heir, and this was his 
house. Esther. When I came here, it was bleak, indeed. He 
had left the signs of his misery upon it." 

" How changed it must be now ! " I said. 

"It had been called, before his time, the Peaks. He gave 
it its present name, and lived here shut up : day and night 
poring over the wicked heaps of papers in the suit, and 
hoping against hope to disentangle it from its mystification 
and bring it to a close. In the meantime, the place became 
dilapidated, the wind whistled through the cracked walls, the 
rain fell through the broken roof, the weeds choked the 
passage to the rotting door. When I brought what remained 
of him home here, the brains seemed to me to have been 
blown out of the house too ; it was so shattered and ruined." 

He walked a little to and fro, after saying this to himself 
with a shudder, and then looked at me, and brightened, and 
came and sat down again with his hands in his pockets. 

"I told you this was the Growlery, my dear. Where 
was I?" 

I reminded him, at the hopeful change he had made in 
Bleak House. 

" Bleak House : true. There is, in that city of London 
there, some property of ours, which is much at this day what 1 
Bleak House was then, I say property of ours, meaning of 
the Suit's, but I ought to call it the property of Costs ; for 



118 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Costs is the only power on earth that will ever get anything 
out of it now, or will ever know it for anything but an eye 
sore and a heartsore. It is a street of perishing blind houses, 
with their eyes stoned out ; without a pane of glass, without 
so much as a window-frame, with the bare blank shutters 
tumbling from their hinges and falling asunder ; the iron 
rails peeling away in flakes of rust ; the chimneys sinking in ; 
the stone steps to every door (and every door might be 
Death's Door) turning stagnant green ; the very crutches on 
which the ruins are propped, decaying. Although Bleak 
(House was not in Chancery, its master was, and it was 
stamped with the same seal. These are the Great Seal's 
impressions, my dear, all over England the children know 
them ! " 

" How changed it is ! " I said again. 

" Why, so it is, 1 ' he answered much more cheerfully ; " and 
it is wisdom in you to keep me to the bright side of the 
picture." (The idea of my wisdom !) " These are things I 
never talk about, or even think about, excepting in the 
Growlery here. If you consider it right to mention them to 
Rick and Ada," looking seriously at me, " you can. I leave 
it to your discretion, Esther." 

"I hope, sir" said I. 

" I think you had better call me Guardian, my dear." 

I felt that I was choking again I taxed myself with it, 
" Esther, now, you know you are ! " when he feigned to say 
this slightly, as if it were a whim, instead of a thoughtful 
tenderness. But I gave the housekeeping keys the least shake 
in the world as a reminder to myself, and folding my hands 
in a still more determined manner on the basket, looked at 
him quietly. 

"I hope, Guardian," said I, "that you may not trust too 
much to my discretion. I hope you may not mistake me. I 
am afraid it will be a disappointment to you to know that I 
am not clever but it really is the truth; and you would 
soon find it out if I had not the honesty to confess it." 



WIGLOMERATION. 119 

He did not seem at all disappointed: quite the contrary. 
He told me, with a smile all over his face, that he knew me 
very well indeed, and that I was quite clever enough for 
him. 

"I hope I may turn out so,' 1 said I, "but I am much 
afraid of it, Guardian. 1 ' 

"You are clever enough to be the good little woman of 
our lives here, my dear, 11 he returned, playfully ; " the little 
old woman of the Child's (I don't mean Skimpole's) Rhyme. 

" ' Little old woman, and whither so high ? ' 
* To sweep the cobwebs out of the sky.' 

You will sweep them so neatly out of our sky, in the course 
of your housekeeping, Esther, that one of these days, we shall 
have to abandon the Growlery, and nail up the door. 11 

This was the beginning of my being called Old Woman, 
and Little Old Woman, and Cobweb, and Mrs. Shipton, and 
Mother Hubbard, and Dame Durden, and so many names of 
that sort, that my own name soon became quite lost among 
them. 

"However, 11 said Mr. Jarndyce, "to return to our gossip. 
Here's Rick, a fine young fellow full of promise. Wha^s to 
be done with him ? " 

O my goodness, the idea of asking my advice on such a 
point ! 

"Here he is, Esther, 11 said Mr. Jarndyce, comfortably 
putting his hands into his pockets and stretching out his 
legs. " He must have a profession ; he must make some 
choice for himself. There will be a world more Wiglomera- 
tion about it, I suppose, but it must be done. 11 

"More what, Guardian? 11 said I. 

" More Wiglomeration, 11 said he. " It's the only name I 
know for the thing. He is a ward in Chancery, my dear. 
Kenge and Carboy will have something to say about it; 
Master Somebody a sort of ridiculous Sexton, digging 
graves for the merits of causes in a back room at the end 



120 BLEAK HOUSE. 

of Quality Court, Chancery Lane will have something to 
say about it; Counsel will have something to say about it; 
the Chancellor will have something to say about it; the 
Satellites will have something to say about it; they will all 
have to be handsomely fee'd, all round, about it; the whole 
thing will be vastly ceremonious, wordy, unsatisfactory, and 
expensive, and I call it, in general, Wiglomeration. How 
mankind ever came to be afflicted with Wiglomeration, or 
for whose sins these young people ever fell into a pit of it, I 
don't know ; so it is." 

He began to rub his head again, and to hint that he felt 
the wind. But it was a delightful instance of his kindness 
towards me, that whether he rubbed his head, or walked 
about, or did both, his face was sure to recover its benignant 
expression as it looked at mine; and he was sure to turn 
comfortable again, and put his hands in his pockets and 
stretch out his legs. 

"Perhaps it would be best, first of all," said I, "to ask 
Mr. Richard what he inclines to himself." 

"Exactly so," he returned. "That's what I mean! You 
know, just accustom yourself to talk it over, with your tact 
and in your quiet way, with him and Ada, and see what 
you all make of it. We are sure to come at the heart of 
the matter by your means, little woman." 

I really was frightened at the thought of the importance 
I was attaining, and the number of things that were being 
confided to me. I had not meant this at all ; I had meant 
that he should speak to Richard. But of course I said 
nothing in reply, except that I would do my best, though 
I feared (I really felt it necessary to repeat this) that he 
thought me much more sagacious than I was. At which my 
guardian only laughed the pleasantest laugh I ever heard. 

" Come ! " he said, rising and pushing back his chair. " I 
think we may have done with the Growlery for one day ! 
Only a concluding word. Esther, my dear, do you wish to 
ask me anything?" 



NUMEROUS CORRESPONDENTS. 121 

He looked so attentively at me, that I looked attentively 
at him, and felt sure I understood him. 

"About myself, sir?" said I. 

" Yes/' 

"Guardian,*" said I, venturing to put my hand, which was 
suddenly colder than I could have wished, in his, " nothing ! 
I am quite sure that if there were anything I ought to know, 
or had any need to know, I should not have to ask you to 
tell it to me. If my whole reliance and confidence were not 
placed in you, I must have a hard heart indeed. I have 
nothing to ask you ; nothing in the world." 

He drew my hand through his arm, and we went away to 
look for Ada. From that hour I felt quite easy with him, 
quite unreserved, quite content to know no more, quite 
happy. 

We lived, at first, rather a busy life at Bleak House; for 
we had to become acquainted with many residents in and 
out of the neighbourhood who knew Mr. Jarndyce. It 
seemed to Ada and me that everybody knew him, who 
wanted to do anything with anybody else^s money. It 
amazed us, when we began to sort his letters, and to answer 
some of them for him in the Growlery of a morning, to find 
how the great object of the lives of nearly all ,his corre 
spondents appeared to be to form themselves into committees 
for getting in and laying out money. The ladies were as 
desperate as the gentlemen ; indeed, I think they were even 
more so. They threw themselves into committees in the 
most impassioned manner, and collected subscriptions with a 
vehemence quite extraordinary. It appeared to us that 
some of them must pass their whole lives in dealing out 
subscription-cards to the whole Post-office Directory shilling 
cards, half-crown cards, half-sovereign cards, penny cards. 
They wanted everything. They wanted wearing apparel, 
they wanted linen rags, they wanted money, they wanted 
coals, they wanted soup, they wanted interest, they wanted 
autographs, they wanted flannel, they wanted whatever Mr. 



122 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Jamdyce had or had not. Their objects were as various 
as their demands. They were going to raise new buildings, 
they were going to pay off debts on old buildings, they 
were going to establish in a picturesque building (engraving 
of proposed West Elevation attached) the Sisterhood of 
Mediaeval Marys ; they were going to give a testimonial 
to Mrs. Jellyby; they were going to have their Secretary^ 
portrait painted, and presented to his mother-in-law, whose 
deep devotion to him was well known ; they were going to 
get up everything, I really believe, from five hundred 
thousand tracts to an annuity, and from a marble monument 
to a silver teapot. They took a multitude of titles. They 
were the Women of England, the Daughters of Britain, the 
Sisters of all the Cardinal Virtues separately, the Females of 
America, the Ladies of a hundred denominations. They 
appeared to be always excited about canvassing and electing. 
They seemed to our poor wits, and according to their own 
accounts, to be constantly polling people by tens of thousands, 
yet never bringing their candidates in for anything. It made 
our heads ache to think, on the whole, what feverish lives 
they must lead. 

Among the ladies who were most distinguished for this 
Capacious benevolence (if I may use the expression), was a 
Mrs. Pardiggle, who seemed, as I judged from the number 
of her letters to Mr. Jarndyce, to be almost as powerful a 
correspondent as Mrs. Jellyby herself. We observed that 
the wind always changed, when Mrs. Pardiggle became the 
subject of conversation: and that it invariably interrupted 
Mr. Jarndyce, and prevented his going any farther, when 
he had remarked that there were two classes of charitable 
people ; one, the people who did a little and made a great 
deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal 
and made no noise at all. We were therefore curious to see 
Mrs. Pardiggle, suspecting her to be a type of the former 
class; and were glad when she called one day with her five 
young sons. 



A VISITOR'S LADY AND FAMILY. 

She was a formidable style of lady, with spectacles, a 
prominent nose, and a loud voice, who had the effect of 
wanting a great deal of room. And she really did, for she 
knocked down little chairs with her skirts that were quite 
a great way off. As only Ada and I were at home, we 
received her timidly; for she seemed to come in like cold 
weather, and to make the little Pardiggles blue as they 
followed. 

"These, young ladies,*" said Mrs. Pardiggle, with great 
volubility, after the first salutations, "are my five boys. 
You may have seen their names in a printed subscription 
list (perhaps more than one), in the possession of our 
esteemed friend, Mr. Jarndyce. Egbert, my eldest (twelveJJA 
is the boy who sent out his pocket-money, to the amount I 
of five-and-threepence, to the Tockahoopo Indians. Oswald,J 
my second (ten-and-a-half), is the child who contributed two- 
and-ninepence to the Great National Smithers Testimonial. 
Francis, my third (nine), one-and-sixpence-halfpenny ; Felix, 
my fourth (seven), eightpence to the Superannuated Widows ; 
Alfred, my youngest (five), has voluntarily enrolled himself 
in the Infant Bonds of Joy, and is pledged never, through 
life, to use tobacco in any form."" 

We had never seen such dissatisfied children. It was not 
merely that they were weazened and shrivelled though they 
were certainly that too but they looked absolutely ferocious 
with discontent. At the mention of the Tockahoopo Indians, 
I could really have supposed Egbert to be one of the most 
baleful members of that tribe, he gave me such a savage 
frown. The face of each child, as the amount of his con 
tribution was mentioned, darkened in a peculiarly vindictive 
manner, but his was by far the worst. I must except, how 
ever, the little recruit into the Infant Bonds of Joy, who 
was stolidly and evenly miserable. 

"You have been visiting, I understand," said Mrs. Par 
diggle, "at Mrs. Jellyby's?" 

We said yes, we had passed one night there. 






124 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Mi's. Jelly by," pursued the lady, always speaking in the 
same demonstrative, loud, hard tone, so that her voice im 
pressed my fancy as if it had a sort of spectacles on too 
and I may take the opportunity of remarking that her 
spectacles were made the less engaging by her eyes being 
what Ada called "choking eyes, 1 '* meaning very prominent: 
"Mrs. Jellyby is a benefactor to society, and deserves a 
helping hand. My boys have contributed to the African 
project Egbert, one-and six, being the entire allowance of 
nine weeks; Oswald, one-and-a-penny-halfpenny, being the 
same; the rest, according to their little means. Neverthe 
less, I do not go with Mrs. Jellyby in all things. I do not 

/ go with Mrs. Jellyby in her treatment of her young family. 

s It has been noticed. It has been observed that her young 
family are excluded from participation in the objects to 
which she is devoted. She may be right, she may be wrong; 
but, right or wrong, this is not my course with my young 
family. I take them everywhere." 

I was afterwards convinced (and so was Ada) that from 
the ill-conditioned eldest child, these words extorted a sharp 
yell. He turned it off into a yawn, but it began as a yell. 

"They attend Matins with me (very prettily done), at 
half-past six o'clock in the morning all the year round, 
including of course the depth of winter," said Mrs. Pardiggle 
rapidly, "and they are with me during the revolving duties 
of the day. I am a School lady, I am a Visiting lady, I am 
a Reading lady, I am a Distributing lady ; I am on the local 
Linen Box Committee, and many general Committees; and 
my canvassing alone is very extensive perhaps no one's more 
so. But they are my companions everywhere; and by these 
means they acquire that knowledge of the poor, and that 
capacity of doing charitable business in general in short, 
that taste for the sort of thing which will render them in 
after life a service to their neighbours, and a satisfaction to 
themselves. My young family are not frivolous ; they expend 
the entire amount of their allowance, in subscriptions, under 



O. A. PARDIGGLE, F.R.S. 125 

my direction ; and they have attended as many public meet 
ings, and listened to as many lectures, orations, and discus 
sions, as generally fall to the lot of few grown people. Alfred 
(five), who, as I mentioned, has of his own election joined 
the Infant Bonds of Joy, was one of the very few children 
who manifested consciousness on that occasion, after a fervid 
address of two hours from the chairman of the evening. 11 

Alfred glowered at us as if he never could, or would, 
forgive the injury of that night. 

"You may have observed, Miss Summerson," said Mrs. 
Pardiggle, " in some of the lists to which I have referred, in 
the possession of our esteemed friend Mr. Jarndyce, that 
the names of my young family are concluded with the name 
of O. A. Pardiggle, F.R.S. , one pound. That is their father. 
We usually observe the same routine. I put down my mite 
first ; then my young family enrol their contributions, accord 
ing to their ages and their little means; and then Mr. 
Pardiggle brings up the rear. Mr. Pardiggle is happy to 
throw in his limited donation, under my direction; and 
thus things are made, not only pleasant to ourselves, but, 
we trust, improving to others." 

Suppose Mr. Pardiggle were to dine with Mr. Jellyby, 
and suppose Mr. Jellyby were to relieve his mind after dinner 
to Mr. Pardiggle, would Mr. Pardiggle, in return, make any 
confidential communication to Mr. Jellyby? I was quite 
confused to find myself thinking this, but it came into 
my head. 

" You are very pleasantly situated here ! " said Mrs. 
Pardiggle. 

We were glad to change the subject; and, going to the 
window, pointed out the beauties of the prospect, on which 
the spectacles appeared to me to rest with curious indifference. 

" You know Mr. Gusher ? " said our visitor. 

We were obliged to say that we had not the pleasure of 
Mr. Gusher's acquaintance. 

"The loss is yours, I assure you, 1 ' said Mrs. Pardiggle, 



BLEAK HOUSLX 

with her commanding deportment. "He is a very fervid 
impassioned speaker full of fire! Stationed in a waggon 
on this lawn, now, which, from the shape of the land, is 
naturally adapted to a public meeting, he would improve 
almost any occasion you could mention for hours and hours.' 
By this time, young ladies," said Mrs. Pardiggle, moving 
back to her chair, and overturning, as if by invisible agency, 
a little round table at a considerable distance with my work- 
basket on it, "by this time you have found me out, I 
dare say? 1 ' 

This was really such a confusing question that Ada looked 
at me in perfect dismay. As to the guilty nature of my 
own consciousness, after what I had been thinking, it must 
have been expressed in the colour of my cheeks. 

"Found out, I mean," said Mrs. Pardiggle, "the promi 
nent point in my character. I am aware that it is so pro 
minent as to be discoverable immediately. I lay myself open 
to detection, I know. Well ! I freely admit, I am a woman 
of business. I love hard work ; I enjoy hard work. The 
excitement does me good. I am so accustomed and inured 
to hard work that I don't know what fatigue is." 

We murmured that it was very astonishing and very grati 
fying; or something to that effect. I don't think we knew 
what it was either, but this is what our politeness expressed. 

" I do not understand what it is to be tired ; you cannot 
tire me if you try ! " said Mrs. Pardiggle. " The quantity 
of exertion (which is no exertion to me), the amount of 
business (which I regard as nothing), that I go through, 
sometimes astonishes myself. I have seen my young family, 
and Mr. Pardiggle, quite worn out with witnessing it, when 
I may truly say I have been as fresh as a lark ! " 

If that dark-visaged eldest boy could look more malicious 
than he had already looked, this was the time when he did 
it. I observed that he doubled his right fist, and delivered 
a secret blow into the crown of his cap, which was under 
his left arm. 



MRS. PARDIGGLE'S PATRONAGE. 

"This gives me a great advantage when I am making my 
rounds," said Mrs. Pardiggle. " If I find a person unwilling 
to hear what I have to say, I tell that person directly, * I am 
incapable of fatigue, my good friend, I am never tired, and 
I mean to go on until I have done.' It answers admirably ! 
Miss Summerson, I hope I shall have your assistance in my 
visiting rounds immediately, and Miss Clare's very soon?" 

At first I tried to excuse myself, for the present, on the 
general ground of having occupations to attend to, which I 
must not neglect. But as this was an ineffectual protest, I 
then said, more particularly, that I was not sure of my 
qualifications. That I was inexperienced in the art of adapt 
ing my mind to minds very differently situated, and addressing 
them from suitable points of view. That I had not that 
delicate knowledge of the heart which must be essential to 
such a work. That I had much to learn, myself, before I 
could teach others, and that I could not confide in my good 
intentions alone. For these reasons, I thought it best to 
be as useful as I could, and to render what kind services I 
could, to those immediately about me; and to try to let 
that circle of duty gradually and naturally expand itself. 
All this I said, with anything but confidence; because Mrs. 
Pardiggle was much older than I, and had great experience, 
and was so very military in her manners. 

" You are wrong, Miss Summerson," said she : " but perhaps 
you are not equal to hard work, or the excitement of it ; and 
that makes a vast difference. If you would like to see how 
I go through my work, I am now about with my young 
family to visit a brickmaker in the neighbourhood (a very 
bad character), and shall be glad to take you with me. Miss 
Clare also, if she will do me the favour." 

Ada and I interchanged looks, and, as we were going out 
in any case, accepted the offer. When we hastily returned 
from putting on our bonnets, we found the young family 
languishing in a corner, and Mrs. Pardiggle sweeping about 
the room, knocking down nearly all the light objects it 



128 BLEAK HOUSE. 

contained. Mrs. Pardiggle took possession of Ada, and I 
followed with the family. 

Ada told me afterwards that Mrs. Pardiggle talked in the 
same loud tone (that, indeed, I overheard), all the way to 
the brick maker's, about an exciting contest which she had 
for two or three years waged against another lady, relative 
to the bringing in of their rival candidates for a pension 
somewhere. There had been a quantity of printing, and 
promising, and proxying, and polling; and it appeared to 
have imparted great liveliness to all concerned, except the 
pensioners who were not elected yet. 

I am very fond of being confided in by children, and am 
happy in being usually favoured in that respect, but on this 
occasion it gave me great uneasiness. As soon as we were 
out of doors, Egbert, with the manner of a little footpad, 
demanded a shilling of me, on the ground that his pocket- 
money was "boned" from him. On my pointing out the 
great impropriety of the word, especially in connexion with 
his parent (for he added sulkily " By her ! "), he pinched me 
and said " O then ! Now ! Who are you ! You wouldn't 
like it, I think? What does she make a sham for, and 
pretend to give me money, and take it away again? Why 
do you call it my allowance, and never let me spend it?" 
These exasperating questions so inflamed his mind, and the 
minds of Oswald and Francis, that they all pinched me at 
once, and in a dreadfully expert way : screwing up such little 
pieces of my arms that I could hardly forbear crying out. 
Felix, at the same time, stamped upon my toes. And the 
Bond of Joy, who, on account of always having the whole of 
his little income anticipated, stood in fact pledged to abstain 
from cakes as well as tobacco, so swelled with grief and rage 
when we passed a pastry-cook's shop, that he terrified me by 
becoming purple. I never underwent so much, both in body 
and mind, in the course of a walk with young people, as 
from these unnaturally constrained children, when they paid 
me the compliment of being natural. 



A VISIT TO THE BRICKMAKEITS. 129 

I was glad when we came to the brickmaker's house; 
though it was one of a cluster of wretched hovels in a brick 
field, with pigsties close to the broken windows, and miserable 
little gardens before the doors, growing nothing but stagnant 
pools. Here and there, an old tub was put to catch the 
droppings of rain-water from a roof, or they were banked up 
with mud into a little pond like a large dirt-pie. At the 
doors and windows, some men and women lounged or prowled 
about, and took little notice of us, except to laugh to one 
another, or to say something as we passed, about gentlefolks 
minding their own business, and not troubling their heads 
and muddying their shoes with coming to look after other 
people's. 

Mrs. Pardiggle, leading the way with a great show of 
moral determination, and talking with much volubility about 
the untidy habits of the people (though I doubted if the best 
of us could have been tidy in such a place), conducted us 
into a cottage at the farthest corner, the ground-floor room 
of which we nearly filled. Besides ourselves, there were in 
this damp offensive room a woman with a black eye, nursing 
a poor little gasping baby by the fire; a man, all stained 
with clay and mud, and looking very dissipated, lying at full 
length on the ground, smoking a pipe; a powerful young 
man, fastening a collar on a dog; and a bold girl, doing 
some kind of washing in very dirty water. They all looked 
up at us as we came in, and the woman seemed to turn her 
face towards the fire, as if to hide her bruised eye; nobody 
gave us any welcome. 

" Well, my friends," said Mrs. Pardiggle ; but her voice 
had not a friendly sound, I thought; it was much too 
business-like and systematic. " How do you do, all of you ? 
I am here again. I told you, you couldn't tire me, you 
know. I am fond of hard work, and am true to my word." 

"There an't," growled the man on the floor, whose head 
rested on his hand as he stared at us, "any more on you to 
come in, is there?" 

VOL. i. K 



130 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"No, my friend," said Mrs. Pardiggle, seating herself on 
one stool, and knocking down another. "We are all 
here." 

" Because I thought there warn't enough of you, perhaps ? " 
said the man, with his pipe between his lips, as he looked 
round upon us. 

The young man and the girl both laughed. Two friends 
of the young man whom we had attracted to the doorway, 
and who stood there with their hands in their pockets, echoed 
the laugh noisily. 

"You can't tire me, good people," said Mrs. Pardiggle to 
these latter. " I enjoy hard work ; and the harder you make 
mine, the better I like it." 

" Then make it easy for her ! " growled the man upon the 
floor. " I wants it done, and over. I wants a end of these 
liberties took with my place. I wants a end of being 
drawed like a badger. Now you're a-going to poll-pry and 
question according to custom I know what you're a-going 
to be up to. Well ! You haven't got no occasion to be up 
to it. I'll save you the trouble. Is my daughter a-washin ? 
Yes, she is a-washin. Look at the water. Smell it ! That's 
wot we drinks. How do you like it, and what do you think 
of gin, instead ! An't my place dirty ? Yes, it is dirty it's 
nat'rally dirty, and it's nat'rally onwholesome ; and we've had 
five dirty and onwholesome children, as is all dead infants, 
and so much the better for them, and for us besides. Have 
I read the little book wot you left? No, I an't read the 
little book wot you left. There an't nobody here as knows 
how to read it; and if there wos, it wouldn't be suitable to 
me. It's a book fit for a babby, and I'm not a babby. If 
you was to leave me a doll, I shouldn't nuss it. How have 
I been conducting of myself? Why, I've been drunk for 
three days ; and I'd a been drunk four, if I'd a had the 
money. Don't I never mean for to go to church? No, Ij 
don't never mean for to go to church. I shouldn't be- 
expected there, if I did ; the beadle's too gen-teel for me. 



TAKEN INTO RELIGIOUS CUSTODY. 131 

And how did my wife get that black eye? Why, I giv 1 it 
her ; and if she says I didn't, she's a Lie ! " 

He had pulled his pipe out of his mouth to say all this, 
and he now turned over on his other side, and smoked again. 
Mrs. Pardiggle, who had been regarding him through her 
spectacles with a forcible composure, calculated, I could not 
help thinking, to increase his antagonism, pulled out a good 
book, as if it were a constable's staff, and took the whole 
family into custody. I mean into religious custody, of 
course; but she really did it, as if she were an inexorable 
moral Policeman carrying them all off to a station-house. 

Ada and I were very uncomfortable. We both felt intrusive 
and out of place ; and we both thought that Mrs. Pardiggle 
would have got on infinitely better, if she had not had such 
a mechanical way of taking possession of people. The 
children sulked and stared ; the family took no notice of us 
whatever, except when the young man made the dog bark : 
which he usually did when Mrs. Pardiggle was most emphatic. 
We both felt painfully sensible that between us and these 
people there was an iron barrier, which could not be removed 
by our new friend. By whom, or how, it could be removed, 
we did not know; but we knew that. Even what she read 
and said, seemed to us to be ill chosen for such auditors, if 
it had been imparted ever so modestly and with ever so much 
tact. As to the little book to which the man on the floor 
had referred, we acquired a knowledge of it afterwards ; and 
Mr. Jarndyce said he doubted if Robinson Crusoe could have 
read it, though he had had no other on his desolate island. 

We were much relieved, under these circumstances, when 
Mrs. Pardiggle left off. The man on the floor then turning 
his head round again, said morosely, 

" Well ! YouVe done, have you ? " 

" For to-day, I have, my friend. But I am never fatigued. 
I shall come to you again, in your regular order," returned 
Mrs. Pardiggle with demonstrative cheerfulness. 

"So long as you goes now," said he, folding his arms and 



132 BLEAK HOUSE. 

shutting his eyes with an oath, " you may do wot you 
like!" 

Mrs. Pardiggle accordingly rose, and made a little vortex 
in the confined room from which the pipe itself very narrowly 
escaped. Taking one of her young family in each hand, and 
telling the others to follow closely, and expressing her hope 
that the brickmaker and all his house would be improved 
when she saw them next, she then proceeded to another 
cottage. I hope it is not unkind in me to say that she 
certainly did make, in this, as in everything else, a show 
that was not conciliatory, of doing charity by wholesale, and 
of dealing in it to a large extent. 

She supposed that we were following her ; but as soon as 
the space was left clear, we approached the woman sitting by 
the fire, to ask if the baby were ill. 

She only looked at it as it lay on her lap. We had 
observed before, that when she looked at it she covered her 
discoloured eye with her hand, as though she wished to 
separate any association with noise and violence and ill- 
treatment, from the poor little child. 

Ada, whose gentle heart was moved by its appearance, bent 
down to touch its little face. As she did so, I saw what 
happened and drew her back. The child died. 

" O Esther ! " cried Ada, sinking on her knees beside it. 
"Look here! O Esther, my love, the little thing! The 
suffering, quiet, pretty little thing! I am so sorry for it. 
I am so sorry for the mother. I never saw a sight so pitiful 
as this before ! O baby, baby ! " 

Such compassion, such gentleness, as that with which she 
bent down weeping, and put her hand upon the mother's, 
might have softened any mother's heart that ever beat. The 
woman at first gazed at her in astonishment, and then burst 
into tears. 

Presently I took the light burden from her lap; did what 
I could to make the baby's rest the prettier and gentler ; laid 
it on a shelf, and covered it with my own handkerchief. We 



TRUE WOMANLY SYMPATHY. 133 

tried to comfort the mother, and we whispered to her what 
Our Saviour said of children. She answered nothing, but sat 
weeping weeping very much. 

When I turned, I found that the young man had taken 
out the dog, and was standing at the door looking in upon 
us; with dry eyes, but quiet. The girl was quiet too, and 
sat in a corner looking on the ground. The man had risen. 
He still smoked his pipe with an air of defiance, but he was 
silent. 

An ugly woman, very poorly clothed, hurried in while I 
was glancing at them, and coming straight up to the mother, 
said, "Jenny! Jenny!" The mother rose on being so 
addressed, and fell upon the woman's neck. 

She also had upon her face and arms the marks of ill-usage. 
She had no kind of grace about her, but the grace of 
sympathy ; but when she condoled with the woman, and her 
own tears fell, she wanted no beauty. I say condoled, but 
her only words were " Jenny ! Jenny ! " All the rest was in 
the tone in which she said them. 

I thought it very touching to see these two women, coarse 
and shabby and beaten, so united ; to see what they could be 
to one another; to see how they felt for one another; how 
the heart of each to each was softened by the hard trials of 
their lives. I think the best side of such people is almost 
hidden from us. What the poor are to the poor is little 
known, excepting to themselves and GOD. 

We felt it better to withdraw and leave them uninterrupted. 
We stole out quietly, and without notice from any one except 
the man. He was leaning against the wall near the door; 
and finding that there was scarcely room for us to pass, went 
out before us. He seemed to want to hide that he did this 
on our account, but we perceived that he did, and thanked 
him. He made no answer. 

Ada was so full of grief all the way home, and Richard, 
whom we found at home, was so distressed to see her in tears 
(though he said to me when she was not present, how 



134? BLEAK HOUSE. 

beautiful it was too !) that we arranged to return at night with 
some little comforts, and repeat our visit at the brickmaker's 
house. We said as little as we could to Mr. Jarndyce, but 
the wind changed directly. 

Richard accompanied us at night to the scene of our morn 
ing expedition. On our way there, we had to pass a noisy 
drinking-house, where a number of men were flocking about 
the door. Among them, and prominent in some dispute, 
was the father of the little child. At a short distance, we 
passed the young man and the dog, in congenial company. 
The sister was standing laughing and talking with some 
other young women, at the corner of the row of cottages ; but 
she seemed ashamed, and turned away as we went by. 

We left our escort within sight of the brickmaker's dwelling, 
and proceeded by ourselves. When we came to the door, we 
found the woman who had brought such consolation with her, 
standing there, looking anxiously out. 

" It's you, young ladies, is it ? " she said in a whisper. " I'm 
a-watching for my master. My heart's in my mouth. If he 
was to catch me away from home, he'd pretty near murder 
me." 

" Do you mean your husband ? " said I. 

"Yes, miss, my master. Jenny's asleep, quite worn out. 
She's scarcely had the child off her lap, poor thing, these 
seven days and nights, except when I've been able to take it 
for a minute or two." 

As she gave way for us, she went softly in, and put what 
we had brought, near the miserable bed on which the mother 
slept. No effort had been made to clean the room it seemed 
in its nature almost hopeless of being clean; but the small 
waxen form, from which so much solemnity diffused itself, had 
been composed afresh, and washed, and neatly dressed in some 
fragments of white linen ; and on my handkerchief, which 
still covered the poor baby, a little bunch of sweet herbs 
had been laid by the same rough scarred hands, so lightly, 
so tenderly! 



THE POOR DEAD BABY. 135 

" May Heaven reward you ! " we said to her. " You are a 
good woman." 

" Me, young ladies ? " she returned with surprise. " Hush ! 
Jenny, Jenny ! " 

The mother had moaned in her sleep, and moved. The 
sound of the familiar voice seemed to calm her again. She 
was quiet once more. 

How little I thought, when I raised my handkerchief to 
look upon the tiny sleeper underneath, and seemed to see a 
halo shine around the child through Ada's drooping hair as 
her pity bent her head how little I thought in whose unquiet 
bosom that handkerchief would come to lie, after covering 
the motionless and peaceful breast! I only thought that 
perhaps the Angel of the child might not be all unconscious 
of the woman who replaced it with so compassionate a hand ; 
not all unconscious of her presently, when we had taken 
leave, and left her at the door, by turns looking, and listening 
in terror for herself, and saying in her old soothing manner, 
" Jenny, Jenny ! " 



CHAPTER IX. 

SIGNS AND TOKENS. 

I DON't know how it is, I seem to be always writing about 
myself. I mean all the time to write about other people, 
and I try to think about myself as little as possible, and I am 
sure, when I find myself coming into the story again, I am 
really vexed and say, " Dear, dear, you tiresome little creature, 
I wish you wouldn't ! " but it is all of no use. I hope any 
one who may read what I write, will understand that if these 
pages contain a great deal about me, I can only suppose it 
must be because I have really something to do with them, 
and can't be kept out. 

My darling and I read together, and worked, and practised ; 
and found so much employment for our time, that the winter 
days flew by us like bright-winged birds. Generally in the 
afternoons, and always in the evenings, Richard gave us his 
company. Although he was one of the most restless creatures 
in the world, he certainly was very fond of our society. 

He was very, very, very fond of Ada. I mean it, and I 
had better say it at once. I had never seen any young 
people falling in love before, but I found them out quite 
soon. I could not say so, of course, or show that I knew 
anything about it. On the contrary, I was so demure, and 
used to seem so unconscious, that sometimes I considered 
within myself while I was sitting at work, whether I was not 
growing quite deceitful. 

But there was no help for it. All I had to do was to be 



DAME BURDEN. 137 

quiet, and I was as quiet as a mouse. They were as quiet 
as mice, too, so far as any words were concerned ; but the 
innocent manner in which they relied more and more upon 
me, as they took more and more to one another, was so 
charming, that I had great difficulty in not showing how it 
interested me. 

" Our dear little old woman is such a capital old woman," 
Richard would say, coming up to meet me in the garden 
early, with his pleasant laugh and perhaps the least tinge of 
a blush, "that I can't get on without her. Before I begin 
my harum-scarum day grinding away at those books and 
instruments, and then galloping up hill and down dale, all 
the country round, like a highwayman it does me so much 
good to come and have a steady walk with our comfortable 
friend, that here I am again ! " 

" You know, Dame Durden, dear,"" Ada would say at 
night, with her head upon my shoulder, and the firelight 
shining in her thoughtful eyes, " I don't want to talk when 
we come up-stairs here. Only to sit a little while, thinking, 
with your dear face for company; and to hear the wind, and 
remember the poor sailors at sea " 

Ah ! Perhaps Richard was going to be a sailor. We 
had talked it over very often, now, and there was some 
talk of gratifying the inclination of his childhood for the sea. 
Mr. Jarndyce had written to a relation of the family, a great 
Sir Leicester Dedlock, for his interest in Richard's favour, 
generally ; and Sir Leicester had replied in a gracious manner, 
" that he would be happy to advance the prospects of the 
young gentleman if it should ever prove to be within his 
power, which was not at all probable and that my Lady 
sent her compliments to the young gentleman (to whom she 
perfectly remembered that she was allied by remote con 
sanguinity), and trusted that he would ever do his duty in 
any honourable profession to which he might devote himself." 

" So I apprehend it's pretty clear," said Richard to me, 
" that I shall have to work my own way. Never mind ! 



138 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Plenty of people have had to do that before now, and have 
done it. I only wish I had the command of a clipping 
privateer, to begin with, and could carry off the Chancellor 
and keep him on short allowance until he gave judgment in 
our cause. He'd find himself growing thin, if he didn't look 
sharp ! " 

With a buoyancy and hopefulness and a gaiety that hardly 
ever flagged, Richard had a carelessness in his character that 
quite perplexed me principally because he mistook it, in 
such a very odd way, for prudence. It entered into all his 
calculations about money, in a singular manner, which I don't 
think I can better explain than by reverting for a moment 
to our loan to Mr. Skimpole. 

Mr. Jarndyce had ascertained the amount, either from Mr. 
Skimpole himself or from Coavinses, and had placed the 
money in my hands with instructions to me to retain my own 
part of it and hand the rest to Richard. The number of 
little acts of thoughtless expenditure which Richard justified 
by the recovery of his ten pounds, and the number of times 
he talked to me as if he had saved or realised that amount, 
would form a sum in simple addition. 

" My prudent Mother Hubbard, why not ? " he said to 
me, when he wanted, without the least consideration, to 
bestow five pounds on the brickmaker. " I made ten pounds, 
clear, out of Coavinses 1 business." 

" How was that ? " said I. 

" Why, I got rid of ten pounds which I was quite content 
to get rid of, and never expected to see any more. You 
don't deny that?" 

No," said I. 

" Very well ! then I came into possession of ten pounds " 

"The same ten pounds," I hinted. 

" That has nothing to do with it ! " returned Richard. 
"I have got ten pounds more than I expected to have, 
and consequently I can afford to spend it without being 
particular." 



MR. BOYTHORN EXPECTED. 139 

In exactly the same way, when he was persuaded out of 
the sacrifice of these five pounds by being convinced that it 
would do no good, he carried that sum to his credit and 
drew upon it. 

" Let me see ! " he would say. " I saved five pounds out of 
the brickmaker's affair ; so, if I have a good rattle to London 
and back in a post-chaise, and put that down at four pounds, 
I shall have saved one. And it's a very good thing to save 
one, let me tell you : a penny saved, is a penny got ! " 

I believe Richard's was as frank and generous a nature as 
there possibly can be. He was ardent and brave, and, in 
the midst of all his wild restlessness, was so gentle, that I 
knew him like a brother in a few weeks. His gentleness 
was natural to him, and would have shown itself abundantly, 
even without Ada's influence ; but, with it, he became one of 
the most winning of companions, always so ready to be in 
terested, and always so happy, sanguine, and light-hearted. I 
am sure that I, sitting with them, and walking with them, 
and talking with them, and noticing from day to day how 
they went on, falling deeper and deeper in love, and saying 
nothing about it, and each shyly thinking that this love was 
the greatest of secrets, perhaps not yet suspected even by 
the other I am sure that I was scarcely less enchanted than 
they were, and scarcely less pleased with the pretty dream. 

We were going on in this way, when one morning at 
breakfast Mr. Jarndyce received a letter, and looking at the 
superscription said, "From Boythorn? Aye, aye!" and 
opened and read it with evident pleasure, announcing to us, 
in a parenthesis, when he was about half-way through, that 
Boythorn was "coming down" on a visit. Now, who was 
Boythorn ? we all thought. And I dare say we all thought, 
too I am sure I did, for one would Boythorn at all interfere 
with what was going forward ? 

"I went to school with this fellow, Lawrence Boythorn," 
said Mr. Jarndyce, tapping the letter as he laid it on the 
table, " more than five-and-forty years ago. He was then 



140 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the most impetuous boy in the world, and he is now the 
most impetuous man. He was then the loudest boy in the 
world, and he is now the loudest man. He was then 
the heartiest and sturdiest boy in the world, and he is now 
the heartiest and sturdiest man. He is a tremendous 
fellow." 

" In stature, sir ! " asked Richard. 

"Pretty well, Rick, in that respect," said Mr. Jarndyce; 
"being some ten years older than I, and a couple of inches 
taller, with his head thrown back like an old soldier, his 
stalwart chest squared, his hands like a clean blacksmith's, 
and his lungs ! there's no simile for his lungs. Talking, 
laughing, or snoring, they make the beams of the house 
shake." 

As Mr. Jarndyce sat enjoying the image of his friend 
Boythorn, we observed the favourable omen that there was 
not the least indication of any change in the wind. 

"But it's the inside of the man, the warm heart of the 
man, the passion of the man, the fresh blood of the man, 
Rick and Ada, and little Cobweb too, for you are all 
interested in a visitor ! that I speak of," he pursued. " His 
language is as sounding as his voice. He is always in 
extremes; perpetually in the superlative degree. In his con 
demnation he is all ferocity. You might suppose him to be 
an Ogre, from what he says ; and I believe he has the reputa 
tion of one with some people. There ! I tell you no more 
of him beforehand. You must not be surprised to see him 
take me under his protection; for he has never forgotten 
that I was a low boy at school, and that our friendship 
began in his knocking two of my head tyrant's teeth out (he 
says six) before breakfast. Boythorn and his man," to me, 
" will be here this afternoon, my dear." 

I took care that the necessary preparations were made for 
Mr. Boythorn's reception, and we looked forward to his 
arrival with some curiosity. The afternoon wore away, how 
ever, and he did not appear. The dinner-hour arrived, and 



MR. BOYTHORN ARRIVES. 



141 



still he did not appear. The dinner was put back an hour, 
and we were sitting round the fire with no light but the 
blaze, when the hall-door suddenly burst open, and the hall 
resounded with these words, uttered with the greatest 
vehemence and in a stentorian tone : 

" We have been misdirected, Jarndyce, by a most abandoned 
ruffian, who told us to take the turning to the right instead 
of to the left. He is the most intolerable scoundrel on the 
face of the earth. His father must have been a most con 
summate villain, ever to have such a son. I would have had 
that fellow shot without the least remorse ! " 

"Did he do it on purpose?' 1 Mr. Jarndyce inquired. 

" I have not the slightest doubt that the scoundrel has passed 
his whole existence in misdirecting travellers ! " returned the 
other. "By my soul, I thought him the worst-looking dog 
I had ever beheld, when he was telling me to take the 
turning to the right. And yet I stood before that fellow 
face to face, and didn't knock his brains out!" 

" Teeth, you mean ? " said Mr. Jarndyce. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed Mr. Lawrence Boythorn, really 
making the whole house vibrate. "What, you have not 
forgotten it yet ! Ha, ha, ha ! And that was another most 
consummate vagabond ! By my soul, the countenance of 
that fellow, when he was a boy, was the blackest image of 
perfidy, cowardice, and cruelty ever set up as a scarecrow in a 
field of scoundrels. If I were to meet that most unparalleled 
despot in the streets to-morrow, I would fell him like a 
rotten tree!" 

"I have no doubt of it," said Mr. Jarndyce. "Now, will 
you come up-stairs?" 

"By my soul, Jarndyce," returned his guest, who seemed 
to refer to his watch, "if you had been married, I would 
have turned back at the garden-gate, and gone away to the 
remotest summits of the Himalaya Mountains, sooner than I 
would have presented myself at this unseasonable hour." 

"Not quite so far, I hope?" said Mr. Jarndyce. 



142 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"By my life and honour, yes!" cried the visitor. "I 
wouldn't be guilty of the audacious insolence of keeping a 
lady of the house waiting all this time, for any earthly con 
sideration. I would infinitely rather destroy myself infinitely 
rather ! " 

Talking thus, they went up-stairs; and presently we heard 
him in his bedroom thundering "Ha, ha, ha!" and again 
"Ha, ha, ha!" until the flattest echo in the neighbourhood 
seemed to catch the contagion, and to laugh as enjoy ingly 
as he did, or as we did when we heard him laugh. 

We all conceived a prepossession in his favour; for there 
was a sterling quality in this laugh, and in his vigorous 
healthy voice, and in the roundness and fulness with which 
he uttered every word he spoke, and in the very fury of his 
superlatives, which seemed to go off like blank cannons and 
hurt nothing. But we were hardly prepared to have it so 
confirmed by his appearance, when Mr. Jarndyce presented 
him. He was not only a very handsome old gentleman 
upright and stalwart as he had been described to us with a 
massive grey head, a fine composure of face when silent, a 
figure that might have become corpulent but for his being 
so continually in earnest that he gave it no rest, and a chin 
that might have subsided into a double chin but for the 
vehement emphasis in which it was constantly required to 
assist; but he was such a true gentleman in his manner, so 
chivalrously polite, his face was lighted by a smile of so much 
sweetness and tenderness, and it seemed so plain that he had 
nothing to hide, but showed himself exactly as he was 
incapable (as Richard said) of anything on a limited scale, 
and firing away with those blank great guns, because he 
carried no small arms whatever that really I could not help 
looking at him with equal pleasure as he sat at dinner, 
whether he smilingly conversed with Ada and me, or was led 
by Mr. Jarndyce into some great volley of superlatives, or 
threw up his head like a bloodhound, and gave out that 
tremendous Ha, ha, ha ! 



MR. BOYTHORN'S CANARY. 143 

" You have brought your bird with you, I suppose ? " said 
Mr. Jarndyce. 

"By Heaven, he is the most astonishing bird in Europe!" 
replied the other. " He is the most wonderful creature ! I 
wouldn't take ten thousand guineas for that bird. I have 
left an annuity for his sole support, in case he should outlive 
me. He is, in sense and attachment, a phenomenon. And 
his father before him was one of the most astonishing birds 
that ever lived ! " 

The subject of this laudation was a very little canary, who 
was so tame that he was brought down by Mr. Boythorn's 
man, on his forefinger, and, after taking a gentle flight 
round the room, alighted on his master's head. To hear 
Mr. Boythorn presently expressing the most implacable and 
passionate sentiments, with this fragile mite of a creature 
quietly perched on his forehead, was to have a good 
illustration of his character, I thought. 

"By my soul, Jarndyce," he said, very gently holding up 
a bit of bread to the canary to peck at, " if I were in your 
place, I would seize every Master in Chancery by the throat 
to-morrow morning, and shake him until his money rolled 
out of his pockets, and his bones rattled in his skin. I 
would have a settlement out of somebody, by fair means or 
by foul. If you would empower me to do it, I would do 
it for you with the greatest satisfaction ! " (All this time the 
very small canary was eating out of his hand.) 

"I thank you, Lawrence, but the suit is hardly at such a 
point at present," returned Mr. Jarndyce, laughing, "that 
it would be greatly advanced, even by the legal process of 
shaking the Bench and the whole Bar." 

"There never was such an infernal cauldron as that Chan 
cery, on the face of the earth!" said Mr. Boythorn. "Nothing 
but a mine below it on a busy day in term time, with all 
its records, rules, and precedents collected in it, and every 
functionary belonging to it also, high and low, upward and 
downward, from its son the Accountant- General to its father 



144 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the Devil, and the whole blown to atoms with ten thousand 
hundred- weight of gunpowder, would reform it in the least ! "" 

It was impossible not to laugh at the energetic gravity 
with which he recommended this strong measure of reform. 
When we laughed, he threw up his head, and shook his broad 
chest, and again the whole country seemed to echo to his 
Ha, ha, ha ! It had not the least effect in disturbing the 
bird, whose sense of security was complete; and who hopped 
about the table with its quick head now on this side and 
now on that, turning its bright sudden eye on its master, 
as if he were no more than another bird. 

"But how do you and your neighbour get on about the 
disputed right of way ? " said Mr. Jarndyce. " You are not 
free from the toils of the law yourself!" 

"The fellow has brought actions against me for trespass, 
and I have brought actions against him for trespass," returned 
Mr. Boythorn. "By Heaven, he is the proudest fellow 
breathing. It is morally impossible that his name can be 
Sir Leicester. It must be Sir Lucifer." 

" Complimentary to our distant relation ! " said my Guardian 
laughingly, to Ada and Richard. 

"I would beg Miss Clare's pardon and Mr. Carstone's 
pardon," resumed our visitor, "if I were not reassured by 
seeing in the fair face of the lady, and the smile of the 
gentleman, that it is quite unnecessary, and that they keep 
their distant relation at a comfortable distance." 

" Or he keeps us," suggested Richard. 

" By my soul ! " exclaimed Mr. Boythorn, suddenly firing 
another volley, "that fellow is, and his father was, and his 
grandfather was, the most stiff-necked, arrogant, imbecile, 
pig-headed numskull, ever, by some inexplicable mistake of 
Nature, born in any station of life but a walking-stick's! 
The whole of that family are the most solemnly conceited 
and consummate blockheads ! But it's no matter ; he should 
not shut up my path if he were fifty baronets melted into 
one, and living in a hundred Chesney Wolds, one within 



s v 

THE BOYTIJIOIIN AND DEBLOCK WARS.' 145 

another, like the ivory balls in a Chinese carving. The 
fellow, by his agent, or secretary, or somebody, writes to me, 
'Sir Leicester Decllock, Baronet, presents his compliments 
to Mr. Lawrence Boythorn, and has to call his attention to 
the fact that the green pathway by the old parsonage-house, 
now the property of Mr. Lawrence Boythorn, is Sir Leicester's 
right of way, being in fact a portion of the park of Chesney 
Weld ; and that Sir Leicester finds it convenient to close up 
the same.' I write to the fellow, 'Mr. Lawrence Boythorn 
presents his compliments to Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, 
and has to call his attention to the fact that he totally 
denies the whole of Sir Leicester Dedlock's positions on 
every possible subject, and has to add, in reference to 
closing up the pathway, that he will be glad to see the 
man who may undertake to do it. 7 The fellow sends a 
most abandoned villain with one eye, to construct a gate 
way. I play upon that execrable scoundrel with a fire- 
engine, until the breath is nearly driven out of his body. 
The fellow erects a gate in the night, I chop it down 
and bum it in the morning. He sends his myrmidons to 
come over the fence, and pass and repass. I catch them 
in humane man traps, fire split peas at their legs, play upon 
them with the engine resolve to free mankind from the 
insupportable burden of the existence of those lurking ruffians, 
He brings actions for trespass; I bring actions for trespass. 
He brings actions for assault and battery; I defend them, 
and continue to 'assault and batter. Ha, ha, ha!" - 

To hear him say all this with unimaginable energy, one 
might have thought him the angriest of mankind. To seo 
him at the very same time, looking at the bird now perched 
upon his thumb, ana softly smoothing its feathers with his 
forefinger, one might have thought him the gentlest. To 
Lear him laugh, and see the broad good nature of his face 
then, one might have supposed that he had not a care in 
the world, or a dispute, or a dislike, but that his whole 
existence was a summer joke. 

VOL. r. L 






' 



\ 

1 



146 BIEAK HOUSE. 

"No, no," he said, "no closing up of my paths, by any 
Dedlock! Though I willingly confess," here he softened in 
A moment, "that Lady Dedlock is the most accomplished 
lady in the world, to whom I would do any homage that a 
plain gentleman, and no baronet with a head seven hundred 
years thick, may. A man who joined his regiment at twenty, 
andj within a week, challenged the most imperious and pre 
sumptuous coxcomb of a commanding officer that ever drew 
the breath of life through a tight waist and got broke for 
it is not the man to be walked over, by all the Sir Lucifers, 
dead or alive, locked or unlocked. Ha, ha, ha ! " 

"Nor the man to allow his junior to be walked over, 
either ? " said my Guardian. 

"Most assuredly not!" said Mr. Boy thorn, clapping him 
on the shoulder idth an air of protection, that had some 
thing serious w it, though he laughed. "He will stand by 
the low boy, always. Jarndyce, you may rely upon him! 
But, speaking of this trespass with apologies to Miss Clare 
and Miss Summerson for the length at which I have 
pursued so dry a subject is there nothing for me from 
your men, Kenge and Carboy?" 

"I think not, Esther?" 1 said Mr. Jarndyce. 

"Nothing, Guardian." 

" Much obliged i " said Mr. Boythom. " Had no need to 
ask, after even my slight experience of Mis* SummersoiVs 
forethought for every one about her." (They all encouraged 
me; they were determined to do it.) "I inquired because, 
coming from Lincolnshire, I of course have not yet been in 
town, a ad I thought some letters might have been sent down 
here. I dare say they will report progress to-morrow 
morning." 

I saw him so often, in the course of tho evening, which 
passed very . pleasantly, contemplate Richard and Ada with 
an interest and a satisfaction that made his fine face remark 
ably agreeable as he sat at a little distance from the piano 
listening to the music and he had small occasion to tell us 



A ROMANTIC LOVE STORY. 147 

that he was passionately fond of music, for his face showed 
it that I asked my Guardian, as we sat at the backgammon 
board, whether Mr. Boy thorn had ever been married. 

"No," said he. "No/' 

" But he meant to be ! " said I. 

"How did you find out that?" he returned, with a 
smile. 

"Why, Guardian," I explained, not without reddening a 
little at hazarding what was in my thoughts, "there is some 
thing so tender in his manner, after all, and he is so very 
courtly and gentle to us, and " 

Mr. Jarndyce directed his eyes to where he was sitting, as 
I have just described him. 

I said no more. 

" You are right, little woman," he answered. " He was all 
but married, once. Long ago. And once." 

"Did the lady die?" 

" No but she died to him. That time has had its influence 
on all his later life. Would you suppose him to have a head 
and a heart full of romance yet ? " 

"I think, Guardian, I might have supposed so. But it is 
easy to say that, when you have told me so." 

" He has never since been what he might have been," said 
Mr. Jarndyce, " and now you see him in his age with no one 
near him but his servant, and his little yellow friend. It's 
your throw, my dear ! " 

I felt, from my Guardian's manner, that beyond this point 
I could not pursue the subject without changing the wind. 
I therefore forbore to ask any further questions. I was in 
terested, but not curious. I thought a little while about this 
old love story in the night, when I was awakened by Mr. 
Boythorn's lusty snoring ; and I tried to do that very difficult 
thing, imagine old people young again, and invested with the 
graces of youth. But I fell asleep before I had succeeded, 
and dreamed of the days when I lived in my godmother's 
house. I am not sufficiently acquainted with such subjects 



148 BLEAK HOUSE. 

to know whether it is at all remarkable that I almost always 
dreamed of that period of my life. 

With the morning, there came a letter from Messrs. Kenge 
and Carboy to Mr. Boythorn, informing him that one of their 
clerks would wait upon him at noon. As it was the day of 
the week on which I paid the bills, and added up my books, 
and made all the household affairs as compact as possible, I 
remained at home while Mr. Jarndyce, Ada, and Richard, 
took advantage of a very fine day to make a little excursion. 
Mr. Boythorn was to wait for Kenge and Carboy's clerk, and 
then was to go on foot to meet them on their return. 

Well ! I was full of business, examining tradesmen's books, 
adding up columns, paying money, filing receipts, and I dare 
say making a great bustle about it, when Mr. Guppy was 
announced and shown in. I had had some idea that the 
clerk who was to be sent down, might be the young gentle 
man who had met me at the coach-office ; and I was glad to 
see him, because he was associated with my present happiness. 

I scarcely knew him again, he was so uncommonly smart. 
He had an entirely new suit of glossy clothes on, a shining 
hat, lilac-kid gloves, a neckerchief of a variety of colours, a 
large hot-house flower in his button-hole, and a thick gold 
ring on his little finger. Besides which, he quite scented the 
dining-room with bearVgrease and other perfumery. He 
looked at me with an attention that quite confused me, when 
I begged him to take a seat until the servant should return ; 
and as he sat there, crossing and uncrossing his legs in a 
corner, and I asked him if he had had a pleasant ride, and 
hoped that Mr. Kenge was well, I never looked at him, but 
I found him looking at me, in the same scrutinising and 
curious way. 

When the request was brought to him that he would go 
up-stairs to Mr. Boythorn's room, I mentioned that he would 
find lunch prepared for him when he came down, of which 
Mr. Jarndyce hoped he would partake. He said with some 
embarrassment, holding the handle of the door, " Shall I have 



MR. GUPPY. 149 

the honour of finding you here, miss ? " I replied yes, I should 
be there ; and he went out with a bow and another look. 

I thought him only awkward and shy, for he was evidently 
much embarrassed ; and I fancied that the best thing I could 
do, would be to wait until I saw that he had everything he 
wanted, and then to leave him to himself. The lunch was 
soon brought, but it remained for some time on the table. 
The interview with Mr. Boythorn was a long one and a 
stormy one too, I should think; for although his room was 
at some distance, I heard his loud voice every now and then 
like a high wind, and evidently blowing perfect broadsides of 
denunciation. 

At last Mr. Guppy came back, looking something the 
worse for the conference. "My eye, miss/' he said in a low 
voice, "he's a Tartar! 1 ' 

" Pray take some refreshment, sir,' 1 said I. 

Mr. Guppy sat down at the table, and began nervously 
sharpening the carving-knife on the carving-fork ; still look 
ing at me (as I felt quite sure without looking at him), in 
the same unusual manner. The sharpening lasted so long, 
that at last I felt a kind of obligation on me to raise my 
eyes, in order that I might break the spell under which he 
seemed to labour, of not being able to leave off. 

He immediately looked at the dish, and began to carve. 

" What will you take yourself, miss ? You'll take a morsel 
of something ? " 

"No, thank you," said I. 

" Shan't I give you a piece of anything at all, miss ? " said 
Mr. Guppy, hurriedly drinking off a glass of wine. 

" Nothing, thank you," said I. " I have only waited to see 
that you have everything you want. Is there anything I can 
order for you ? " 

"No, I am much obliged to you, miss, I'm sure. I've 
everything that I can require to make me comfortable at 
least I not comfortable I'm never that : " he drank off two 
more glasses of wine, one after another. 



150 BLEAK HOUSE. 

I thought I had better go. 

" I beg your pardon, miss ! " said Mr. Guppy, rising, when 
he saw me rise. "But would you allow me the favour of a 
minute's private conversation ? " 

Not knowing what to say, I sat down again. 

"What follows is without prejudice, miss?" said Mr. 
Guppy, anxiously bringing a chair towards my table. 

"I don't understand what you mean,"" said I, wondering. 

"It's one of our law terms, miss. You won't make any 
use of it to my detriment, at Kenge and Carboy's, or else 
where. If our conversation shouldn't lead to anything, I am 
to be as I was, and am not to be prejudiced in my situation 
or worldly prospects. In short, it's in total confidence." 

"I am at a loss, sir," said I, "to imagine what you can 
have to communicate in total confidence to me, whom you 
have never seen but once ; but I should be very sorry to do 
you any injury." 

" Thank you, miss. I'm sure of it that's quite sufficient." 
All this time Mr. Guppy was either planing his forehead with 
his handkerchief, or tightly rubbing the palm of his left hand 
with the palm of his right. " If you would excuse my taking 
another glass of wine, miss, I think it might assist me in 
getting on, without a continual choke that cannot fail to be 
mutually unpleasant." 

He did so, and came back again. I took the opportunity 
of moving well behind my table. 

"You wouldn't allow me to offer you one, would you, 
miss ? " said Mr. Guppy, apparently refreshed. 

" Not any," said I. 

"Not half a glass?" said Mr. Guppy; "quarter? No! 
Then, to proceed. My present salary, Miss Summerson, at 
Kenge and Carboy's, is two pound a-week. When I first had 
the happiness of looking upon you, it was one-fifteen, and had 
stood at that figure for a lengthened period. A rise of five 
has since taken place, and a further rise of five is guaranteed 
at the expiration of a term not exceeding twelve months from 




iff] 




MR. GUPPY DECLARES HIMSELF. 151 

the present date. My mother has a little property, which 
takes the form of a small life annuity ; upon which she lives 
in an independent though unassuming manner, in the Old 
Street Road. She is eminently calculated for a mother-in-law. 
She never interferes, is all for peace, and her disposition easy. 
She has her failings as who has not ? but I never knew her 
do it when company was present ; at which time you may 
freely trust her with wines, spirits, or malt liquors. My own 
abode is lodgings at Penton Place, Pentonville. It is lowly, 
but airy, open at the back, and considered one of the 'ealthiest 
outlets. Miss Summerson ! In the mildest language, I adore 
you. Would you be so kind as to allow me (as I may say) 
to file a declaration to make an offer ! " 

Mr. Guppy went down on his knees. I was well behind 
my table, and not much frightened. I said, "Get up from 
that ridiculous position immediately, sir, or you will oblige 
me to break my implied promise and ring the bell ! " 

" Hear me out, miss ! " said Mr. Guppy, folding his hands. 

"I cannot consent to hear another word, sir, 1 ' I returned, 
"unless you get up from the carpet directly, and go and sit 
down at the table, as you ought to do if you have any sense 
at all." 

He looked piteously, but slowly rose and did so. 

"Yet what a mockery it is, miss," he said, with his hand 
upon his heart, and shaking his head at me in a melancholy 
manner over the tray, " to be stationed behind food at such 
a moment. The soul recoils from food at such a moment, 
miss." 

" I beg you to conclude," said I ; " you have asked me to 
hear you out, and I beg you to conclude." 

" I will, miss," said Mr. Guppy. " As I love and honour, 
so likewise I obey. Would that I could make Thee the 
subject of that vow, before the shrine ! " 

"That is quite impossible," said I, "and entirely out of 
the question." 

"I am aware," said Mr. Guppy, leaning forward over the 



152 BLEAK HOUSE. 

tray, and regarding me, as I again strangely felt, though my 
eyes were not directed to him, with his late intent look, "I 
am aware that in a worldly point of view, according to all 
appearances, my offer is a poor one. But, Miss Summerson ! 
Angel ! No, don't ring I have been brought up in a sharp 
school, and am accustomed to a variety of general practice. 
Though a young man, I have ferreted out evidence, got up 
cases, and seen lots of life. Blest with your hand, what 
means might I not find of advancing your interests, and 
pushing your fortunes ! What might I not get to know, 
nearly concerning you ? I know nothing now, certainly ; but 
what might I not, if I had your confidence, and you set 
me on ? " 

I told him that he addressed my interest, or what he 
supposed to be my interest, quite as unsuccessfully as he 
addressed my inclination ; and he would now understand that 
I requested him, if he pleased, to go away immediately. 

" Cruel miss," said Mr. Guppy, " hear but another word ! 
I think you must have seen that I was struck with those 
charms, on the day when I waited at the Whytorseller. I 
think you must have remarked that I could not forbear a 
tribute to those charms when I put up the steps of the 
'ackney-coach. It was a feeble tribute to Thee, but it was 
well meant. Thy image has ever since been fixed in my 
breast. I have walked up and down, of an evening, opposite 
Jellyby's house, only to look upon the bricks that once con 
tained Thee. This out of to-day, quite an unnecessary out 
so far as the attendance, which was its pretended object, 
went, was planned by me alone for Thee alone. If I speak 
of interest, it is only to recommend myself and my respectful 
wretchedness. Love was before it, and is before it. 1 ' 

"I should be pained, Mr. Guppy," said I, rising and 
putting my hand upon the bell-rope, "to do you, or any 
one who was sincere, the injustice of slighting any honest 
feeling, however disagreeably expressed. If you have really 
meant to give me a proof of your good opinion, though 



MR. GUPPY DEPARTS. 153 

ill-timed and misplaced, I feel that I ought to thank you. I 
have very little reason to be proud, and I am not proud. 
I hope,' 1 I think I added, without very well knowing what I 
said, " that you will now go away as if you had never been 
so exceedingly foolish, and attend to Messrs. Kenge and 
Carboy^s business." 

" Half a minute, miss ! " cried Mr. Guppy, checking me as 
I was about to ring. "This has been without prejudice?" 

" I will never mention it," said I, " unless you should give 
me future occasion to do so." 

" A quarter of a minute, miss ! In case you should think 
better at any time, however distant, thafs no consequence, 
for my feelings can never alter of anything I have said, 
particularly what might I not do Mr. AVilliam Guppy, 
eighty-seven, Penton Place, or if removed, or dead (of 
blighted hopes or anything of that sort), care of Mrs. Guppy, 
three hundred and two. Old Street Road, will be sufficient." 

I rang the bell, the servant came, and Mr. Guppy, laying 
his written card upon the table, and making a dejected bow, 
departed. Raising my eyes as he went out, I once more saw 
him looking at me after he had passed the door. 

I sat there for another hour or more, finishing my books 
and payments, and getting through plenty of business. Then, 
I arranged my desk, and put everything away, and was so 
composed and cheerful that I thought I had quite dismissed 
this unexpected incident. But, when I went up-stairs to my 
own room, I surprised myself by beginning to laugh about 
it, and then surprised myself still more by beginning to cry 
about it. In short, I was in a flutter for a little while ; and 
felt as if an old chord had been more coarsely touched than 
it ever had been since the days of the dear old doll, long 
buried in the garden. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE LAW-WRITER. 

ON the eastern borders of Chancery Lane, that is to say, 
more particularly in Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, Mr. 
Snagsby, Law-Stationer, pursues his lawful calling. In the 
shade of Cook's Court, at most times a shady place, Mr. 
Snagsby has dealt in all sorts of blank forms of legal process ; 
in skins and rolls of parchment; in paper foolscap, brief, 
draft, brown, white, whitey-brown, and blotting; in stamps; 
in office-quills, pens, ink, India-rubber, pounce, pins, pencils, 
sealing-wax, and wafers ; in red tape and green ferret ; in 
pocket-books, almanacks, diaries, and law lists; in string 
boxes, rulers, inkstands glass and leaden, penknives, scissors, 
bodkins, and other small office-cutlery ; in short, in articles too 
numerous to mention ; ever since he was out of his time, and 
went into partnership with Peffer. On that occasion, Cook's 
Court was in a manner revolutionised by the new inscription 
in fresh paint, PEFFER and SNAGSBY, displacing the time- 
honoured and not easily to be deciphered legend, PEFFER, 
only. For smoke, which is the London ivy, had so wreathed 
itself round Peffer's name, and clung to his dwelling-place, 
that the affectionate parasite quite overpowered the parent 
tree. 

Peffer is never seen in Cook's Court now. He is not ex 
pected there, for he has been recumbent this quarter of a 
century in the churchyard of St. Andrew's, Holborn, with the 
waggons and hackney-coaches roaring past him, all the day 



MR. SNAGSBY, LAW-STATIONER. 155 

and half the night, like one great dragon. If he ever steal 
forth when the dragon is at rest, to air himself again in 
Cook's Court, until admonished to return by the crowing of 
the sanguine cock in the cellar at the little dairy in Cursitor 
Street, whose ideas of daylight it would be curious to ascertain, 
since he knows from his personal observation next to nothing 
about it if Peffer ever do revisit the pale glimpses of Cook's 
Court, which no law-stationer in the trade can positively deny, 
he comes invisibly, and no one is the worse or wiser. 

In his lifetime, and likewise in the period of Snagsby's 
" time " of seven long years, there dwelt with Peffer, in the 
same law-stationering premises, a niece a short, shrewd niece, 
something too violently compressed about the waist, and 
with a sharp nose like a sharp autumn evening, inclining 
to be frosty towards the end. The Cook's-Courtiers had a 
rumour flying among them, that the mother of this niece did, 
in her daughter's childhood, moved by too jealous a solicitude 
that her figure should approach perfection, lace her up every 
morning with her maternal foot against the bed-post for a 
stronger hold and purchase ; and further, that she exhibited 
internally pints of vinegar and lemon-juice : which acids, they 
held, had mounted to the nose and temper of the patient. 
With whichsoever of the many tongues of Rumour this frothy 
report originated, it either never reached, or never influenced, 
the ears of young Snagsby ; who, having wooed and won its 
fair subject on his arrival at man's estate, entered into two 
partnerships at once. So now, in Cook's Court, Cursitor 
Street, Mr. Snagsby and the niece are one ; and the niece 
still cherishes her figure which, however tastes may differ, is 
unquestionably so far precious, that there is mighty little of it. 

Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby are not only one bone and one flesh, 
but, to the neighbours' thinking, one voice too. That voice, 
appearing to proceed from Mrs. Snagsby alone, is heard in 
Cook's Court very often. Mr. Snagsby, otherwise than as he 
finds expression through these dulcet tones, is rarely heard. 
He is a mild, bald, timid man, with a shining head, and a 



156 BLEAK HOUSE. 

scrubby clump of black hair sticking out at the back. He 
tends to meekness and obesity. As he stands at his door in 
Cook's Court, in his grey shop-coat and black calico sleeves, 
looking up at the clouds ; or stands behind a desk in his dark 
shop, with a heavy flat ruler, snipping and slicing at sheepskin, 
in company with his two 'prentices; he is emphatically a re 
tiring and unassuming man. From beneath his feet, at such 
times, as from a shrill ghost unquiet in its grave, there fre 
quently arise complainings and lamentations in the voice 
already mentioned ; and haply, on some occasions, when these 
reach a sharper pitch than usual, Mr. Snagsby mentions to 
the 'prentices, "I think my little woman is a-giving it to 
Guster!" 

This proper name, so used by Mr. Snagsby, has before now 
sharpened the wit of the Cook's-Courtiers to remark that it 
ought to be the name of Mrs. Snagsby ; seeing that she might 
with great force and expression be termed a Guster, in com 
pliment to her stormy character. It is, however, the posses 
sion, and the only possession, except fifty shillings per annum 
and a very small box indifferently filled with clothing, of a 
lean young woman from a workhouse (by some supposed to 
have been christened Augusta) ; who, although she was farmed 
or contracted for, during her growing time, by an amiable 
benefactor of his species resident at Tooting, and cannot fail 
to have been developed under the most favourable circum 
stances, " has fits " which the parish can't account for. 

Guster, really aged three or four and twenty, but looking 
a round ten years older, goes cheap with this unaccountable 
drawback of fits ; and is so apprehensive of being returned on 
the hands of her patron saint, that except when she is found 
with her head in the pail, or the sink, or the copper, or the 
dinner, or anything else that happens to be near her at the 
time of her seizure, she is always at work. She is a satisfac 
tion to the parents and guardians of the 'prentices, who feel 
that there is little danger of her inspiring tender emotions 
in the breast of youth ; she is a satisfaction to Mrs. Snagsby, 



MRS. SNAGSBY. 157 

who can always find fault with her; she is a satisfaction to 
Mr. Snagsby, who thinks it a charity to keep her. The law- 
stationer's establishment is, in Glister's eyes, a Temple of 
plenty and splendour. She believes the little drawing-room 
up-stairs, always kept, as one may say, with its hair in papers 
and its pinafore on, to be the most elegant apartment in 
Christendom. The view it commands of Cook's Court at one 
end (not to mention a squint into Cursitor Street), and of 
Coavinses' the sheriffs officer's back-yard at the other, she 
regards as a prospect of unequalled beauty. The portraits it< 
displays in oil and plenty of it too of Mr. Snagsby looking 
at Mrs. Snagsby, and of Mrs. Snagsby looking at Mr. 
Snagsby, are in her eyes as achievements of Raphael or Titian. 
Guster has some recompenses for her many privations. 

Mr. Snagsby refers everything not in the practical mysteries 
of the business to Mrs. Snagsby. She manages the money, 
reproaches the Tax-gatherers, appoints the times and places 
of devotion on Sundays, licenses Mr. Snagsby's entertain 
ments, and acknowledges no responsibility as to what she 
thinks fit to provide for dinner ; insomuch that she is the 
high standard of comparison among the neighbouring wives, 
a long way down Chancery Lane on both sides, and even out 
in Holborn, who, in any domestic passages of arms, habitually 
call upon their husbands to look at the difference between 
their (the wives') position and Mrs. Snagsby's, and their (the 
husbands') behaviour and Mr. Snagsby's. Rumour, always 
flying, bat-like, about Cook's Court, and skimming in and 
out at everybody's windows, does say that Mrs. Snagsby is 
jealous and inquisitive; and that Mr. Snagsby is sometimes 
worried out of house and home, and that if he had the spirit 
of a mouse he wouldn't stand it. It is even observed, that 
the wives who quote him to their self-willed husbands as a 
shining example, in reality look down upon him ; and that 
nobody does so with greater superciliousness than one par 
ticular lady, whose lord is more than suspected of laying his 
umbrella on her as an instrument of correction. But these 



158 BLEAK HOUSE. 

vague whisperings may arise from Mr. Snagsby's being, in 
his way, rather a meditative and poetical man ; loving to 
walk in Staple Inn in the summer time, and to observe how 
countrified the sparrows and the leaves are; also to lounge 
about the Rolls Yard of a Sunday afternoon, and to remark 
(if in good spirits) that there were old times once, and that 
you'd find a stone coffin or two, now, under that chapel, he 1 !! 
be bound, if you was to dig for it. He solaces his imagina 
tion, too, by thinking of the many Chancellors and Vices, and 
Masters of the Rolls, who are deceased ; and he gets such a 
flavour of the country out of telling the two 'prentices how 
he has heard say that a brook "as clear as crystial" once ran 
right down the middle of Holborn, when Turnstile really was 
a turnstile, leading slap away into the meadows gets such a 
flavour of the country out of this, that he never wants to go 
there. 

The day is closing in and the gas is lighted, but is not yet 
fully effective, for it is not quite dark. Mr. Snagsby standing 
at his shop-door looking up at the clouds, sees a crow, who is 
out late, skim westward over the slice of sky belonging to 
Cook's Court. The crow flies straight across Chancery Lane 
and Lincoln's Inn Garden, into Lincoln's Inn Fields. 

Here, in a large house, formerly a house of state, lives Mr. 
Tulkinghorn. It is let off in sets of chambers now ; and in 
those shrunken fragments of its greatness, lawyers lie like 
maggots in nuts. But its roomy staircases, passages, and 
ante-chambers still remain ; and even its painted ceilings, 
where Allegory, in Roman helmet and celestial linen, sprawls 
among balustrades and pillars, flowers, clouds, and big-legged 
boys, and makes the head ache as would seem to be 
Allegory's object always, more or less. Here, among his 
many boxes labelled with transcendent names, lives Mr. 
Tulkinghorn, when not speechlessly at home in country-houses 
where the great ones of the earth are bored to death. Here 
he is to-day, quiet at his table. An Oyster of the old school, 
whom nobody can open. 



A VISITOR TO MR. SNAGSBY. 161 

"Certainly, sir! Dear me, sir, why didn't you send your 
young man round for me? Pray walk into the back shop, 
sir." Snagsby has brightened in a moment. 

The confined room, strong of parchment-grease, is warehouse, 
counting-house, and copying- office. Mr. Tulkinghorn sits, 
facing round, on a stool at the desk. 

" Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Snagsby/ 1 

"Yes, sir." Mr. Snagsby turns up the gas, and coughs 
behind his hand, modestly anticipating profit. Mr. Snagsby, 
as a timid man, is accustomed to cough with a variety of 
expressions, and so to save words. 

" You copied some- affidavits in that cause for me lately." 

" Yes, sir, we did." 

" There was one of them," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, carelessly 
feeling tight, unopenable Oyster of the old school ! in the 
wrong coat-pocket, "the handwriting of which is peculiar, 
and I rather like. As I happened to be passing, and thought 
I had it about me, I looked in to ask you but I haven't 
got it. No matter, any other time will do Ah ! here it is ! 
I looked in to ask you who copied this ? " 

" Who copied this, sir ? " says Mr. Snagsby, taking it, laying 
it flat on the desk, and separating all the sheets at once with 
a twirl and a twist of the left hand peculiar to law-stationers. 
"We gave this out, sir. We were giving out rather a large 
quantity of work just at that time. I can tell you in a 
moment who copied it, sir, by referring to my Book." 

Mr. Snagsby takes his Book down from the safe, makes 
another bolt of the bit of bread and butter which seemed to 
have stopped short, eyes the affidavit aside, and brings his 
right forefinger travelling down a page of the Book. " Jewby 
Packer Jarndyce." 

" Jarndyce ! Here we are, sir," says Mr. Snagsby. " To 
be sure ! I might have remembered it. This was given out, 
sir, to a Writer who lodges just over on the opposite side 
of the lane." 

Mr. Tulkinghorn has seen the entry, found it before the 

VOL. i. M 



162 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Law-stationer, read it while the forefinger was coming down 

the hill. 

" What do you call him ? Nemo ? " says Mr. Tulkinghorn. 

"Nemo, sir. Here it is. Forty-two folio. Given out on 
the Wednesday night, at eight o'clock; brought in on the 
Thursday morning, at half after nine." 

" Nemo ! " repeats Mr. Tulkinghorn. " Nemo is Latin for 
no one." 

" It must be English for some one, sir, I think," Mr. 
Snagsby submits, with his deferential cough. "It is a 
person's name. Here it is, you see, sir ! Forty-two folio. 
Given out Wednesday night, eight o'clock ; brought in 
Thursday morning, half after nine." 

The tail of Mr. Snagsby's eye becomes conscious of the 
head of Mrs. Snagsby looking in at the shop-door to know 
what he means by deserting his tea. Mr. Snagsby addresses 
an explanatory cough to Mrs. Snagsby, as who should say, 
" My dear, a customer ! " 

" Half after nine, sir," repeats Mr. Snagsby. " Our law- 
writers, who live by job-work, are a queer lot ; and this may 
not be his name, but it's the name he goes by. I remember 
now, sir, that he gives it in a written advertisement he sticks 
up down at the Rule Office, and the King's Bench Office, and 
the Judges' Chambers, and so forth. You know the kind 
of document, sir wanting employ ? " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn glances through the little window at the 
back of Coavinses 1 , the sheriff's officer's, where lights shine 
in Coavinses' windows. Coavinses' coffee-room is at the back, 
and the shadows of several gentlemen under a cloud loom 
cloudily upon the blinds. Mr. Snagsby takes the opportunity 
of slightly turning his head, to glance over his shoulder at 
his little woman, and to make apologetic motions with his 
mouth to this effect : " Tul-king-horn rich in-flu-en-tial ! " 

" Have you given this man work before ! " asks Mr. 
Tulkinghorn. 

" O dear, yes, sir ! Work of yours." 



A COPYING-CLERICS LODGINGS. 163 

" Thinking of more important matters, I forget where you 
said he lived ?" 

"Across the lane, sir. In fact, he lodges at a " Mr. 
Snagsby makes another bolt, as if the bit of bread and butter 
were insurmountable "at a rag and bottle shop." 

" Can you show me the place as I go back ? " 

" With the greatest pleasure, sir ! " 

Mr. Snagsby pulls off his sleeves and his grey coat, pulls 
on his black coat, takes his hat from its peg. " Oh ! here is 
my little woman ! " he says aloud. " My dear, will you be 
so kind as to tell one of the lads to look after the shop, while 
I step across the lane with Mr. Tulkinghorn ? Mrs. Snagsby, 
sir I shan't be two minutes, my love ! " 

Mrs. Snagsby bends to the lawyer, retires behind the 
counter, peeps at them through the window-blind, goes softly 
into the back office, refers to the entries in the book still 
lying open. Is evidently curious. 

"You will find that the place is rough, sir," says Mr. 
Snagsby, walking deferentially in the road, and leaving the 
narrow pavement to the lawyer; "and the party is very 
rough. But they're a wild lot in general, sir. The advantage 
of this particular man is, that he never wants sleep. He'll 
go at it right on end, if you want him to, as long as ever 
you like." 

It is quite dark now, and the gas-lamps have acquired their 
full effect. Jostling against clerks going to post the day's 
letters, and against counsel and attorneys going home to 
dinner, and against plaintiffs and defendants, and suitors of 
all sorts, and against the general crowd, in whose way the 
forensic wisdom of ages has interposed a million of obstacles 
\to the transaction of the commonest business of life diving 
through law and equity, and through that kindred mystery, 
the street mud, which is made of nobody knows what, and 
collects about us nobody knows whence or how : we only 
knowing in general that when there is too much of it, we 
find it necessary to shovel it away the lawyer arid the 



164 BLEAK HOUSE. 

law-stationer come to a Rag and Bottle shop, and general 
emporium of much disregarded merchandise, lying and being 
in the shadow of the wall of Lincoln's Inn, and kept, as 
is announced in paint, to all whom it may concern, by one 
Krook. 

"This is where he lives, sir,' 1 says the law-stationer. 

"This is where he lives, is it?" says the lawyer uncon 
cernedly. "Thank you." 

"Are you not going in, sir?" 

" No, thank you, no ; I am going on to the Fields at 
present. Good evening. Thank you!" Mr. Snagsby lifts 
his hat, and returns to his little woman and his tea. 

But Mr. Tulkinghorn does not go on to the Fields at 
present. He goes a short way, turns back, comes again to 
the shop of Mr. Krook, and enters it straight. It is dim 
enough, with a blot-headed candle or so in the windows, 
and an old man and a cat sitting in the back part by a fire. 
The old man rises and comes forward, with another blot- 
headed candle in his hand. 

" Pray is your lodger within ? " 

" Male or female, sir ? " says Mr. Krook. 

"Male. The person who does copying." 

Mr. Krook has eyed his man narrowly. Knows him by 
sight. Has an indistinct impression of his aristocratic repute. 

"Did you wish to see him, sir?" 

" Yes." 

"It's what I seldom do myself," says Mr. Krook with a 
grin. " Shall I call him down ? But it's a weak chance if 
he'd come, sir ! " 

"I'll go up to him, then," says Mr. Tulkinghorn. 

"Second floor, sir. Take the candle. Up there!" Mr. 
Krook, with his cat beside him, stands at the bottom of the 
staircase, looking after Mr. Tulkinghorn. "Hi hi!" he 
says, when Mr. Tulkinghorn has nearly disappeared. The 
lawyer looks down over the hand-rail. The cat expands her 
wicked mouth, and snarls at him. 



MR. KROOK'S ADVICE. 165 

" Order, Lady Jane ! Behave yourself to visitors, my lady ! 
You know what they say of my lodger?" whispers Krook, 
going up a step or two. 

" What do they say of him ?" 

"They say he has sold himself to the Enemy; but you 
and I know better he don't buy. I'll tell you what, though ; 
my lodger is so black -humoured and gloomy, that I believe 
he'd as soon make that bargain as any other. Don't put 
him out, sir. That's my advice ! " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn with a nod goes on his way. He comes 
to the dark door on the second floor. He knocks, receives 
no answer, opens it, and accidentally extinguishes his candle 
in doing so. 

The air of the room is almost bad enough to have extin 
guished it, if he had not. It is a small room, nearly black 
with soot, and grease, and dirt. In the rusty skeleton of a 
grate, pinched at the middle as if Poverty had gripped it, a 
red coke fire burns low. In the corner by the chimney, stand 
a deal table and a broken desk ; a wilderness marked with a 
rain of ink. In another corner, a ragged old portmanteau 
on one of the two chairs, serves for cabinet or wardrobe; no 
larger one is needed, for it collapses like the cheeks of a 
starved man. The floor is bare; except that one old mat, 
trodden to shreds of rope-yarn, lies perishing upon the hearth. 
No curtain veils the darkness of the night, but the discoloured 
shutters are drawn together; and through the two gaunt 
holes pierced in them, famine might be staring in the Ban 
shee of the man upon the bed. 

For, on a low bed opposite the fire, a confusion of dirty 
patchwork, lean-ribbed ticking, and coarse sacking, the lawyer, 
hesitating just within the doorway, sees a man. He lies 
there, dressed in shirt and trousers, with bare feet. He has a 
yellow look in the spectral darkness of a candle that has gut 
tered down, until the whole length of its wick (still burning) 
has doubled over, and left a tower of winding-sheet above it. 
His hair is ragged, mingling with his whiskers and his beard 



166 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the latter, ragged too, and grown, like the scum and mist 
around him, in neglect. Foul and filthy as the room is, foul 
and filthy as the air is, it is not easy to perceive what fumes 
those are which most oppress the senses in it; but through 
the general sickliness and faintness, and the odour of stale 
tobacco, there comes into the lawyer's mouth the bitter, 
vapid taste of opium. 

" Hallo, my friend ! " he cries, and strikes his iron candle 
stick against the door. 

He thinks he has awakened his friend. He lies a little 
turned away, but his eyes are surely open. 

" Hallo, my friend ! " he cries again. " Hallo ! Hallo ! " 

As he rattles on the door, the candle which has drooped 
so long, goes out, and leaves him in the dark ; with the gaunt 
eyes in the shutters staring down upon the bed. 



CHAFfER XL 

OUR DEAR BROTHER. 

A TOUCH on the lawyer's wrinkled hand, as he stands in 
the dark room, irresolute, makes him start and say " What's 
that? 11 

" It's me," returns the old man of the house, whose breath 
is in his ear. " Can't you wake him ? " 

No/ 1 

" What have you done with your candle ? " 

" It's gone out. Here it is." 

Krook takes it, goes to the fire, stoops over the red embers, 
and tries to get a light. The dying ashes have no light 
to spare, and his endeavours are vain. Muttering, after 
an ineffectual call to his lodger, that he will go down-stairs 
and bring a lighted candle from the shop, the old man departs. 
Mr. Tulkinghorn, for some new reason that he has, does not 
await his return in the room, but on the stairs outside. 

The welcome light soon shines upon the wall, as Krook 
comes slowly up, with his green-eyed cat following at his heels. 
" Does the man generally sleep like this ? " inquires the lawyer, 
in a low voice. " Hi ! I don't know," says Krook, shaking his 
head and lifting his eyebrows. " I know next to nothing of 
his habits, except that he keeps himself very close." 

Thus whispering, they both go in together. As the light 
goes in, the great eyes in the shutters, darkening, seem to 
close. Not so the eyes upon the bed. 



168 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" God save us ! " exclaims Mr. Tulkinghorn. " He is dead ! '' 

Krook drops the heavy hand he has taken up, "so suddenly 
that the arm swings over the bedside. 

They look at one another for a moment. 

" Send for some doctor ! Call for Miss Flite up the stairs, 
sir. Here's poison by the bed ! Call out for Flite, will you ? " 
says Krook, with his lean hands spread out above the body 
like a vampire's wings. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn hurries to the landing, and calls " Miss 
Flite ! Flite ! Make haste, here, whoever you are ! Flite ! " 
Krook follows him with his eyes, and, while he is calling, 
finds opportunity to steal to the old portmanteau, and steal 
back again. 

"Run, Flite, run ! The nearest doctor ! Run ! " So Mr. 
Krook addresses a crazy little woman, who is his female lodger : 
who appears and vanishes in a breath : who soon returns, 
accompanied by a testy medical man, brought from his dinner 
with a broad snuffy upper lip, and a broad Scotch tongue. 

" Ey ! Bless the hearts o' ye," says the medical man, 
looking up at them after a moment's examination. "He's 
just as dead as Phairy ! " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn (standing by the old portmanteau) in 
quires if he has been dead any time ? 

" Any time, sir ? " says the medical gentleman. " It's 
probable he wull have been dead aboot three hours." 

"About that time, I should say," observes a dark young 
man, on the other side of the bed. 

"Air you in the maydickle prayfession yourself, sir?" 
inquires the first. 

The dark young man says yes. 

" Then I'll just tak' my depairture," replies the other ; " for 
I'm nae gude here ! " With which remark, he finishes his 
brief attendance, and returns to finish his dinner. The dark 
young surgeon passes the candle across and across the face, 
and carefully examines the law-writer, who has established 
his pretensions to his name by becoming indeed No one. 



TOO MUCH OPIUM. 169 

"I knew this person by sight, very well," says he. "He 
has purchased opium of me, for the last year and a half, 
Was anybody present related to him ? " glancing round upon 
the three bystanders. 

"I was his landlord," grimly answers Krook, taking the 
candle from the surgeon's outstretched hand. "He told me 
once, I was the nearest relation he had." 

"He has died," says the surgeon, "of an over-dose of 
opium, there is no doubt. The room is strongly flavoured 
with it. There is enough here now," 11 taking an old teapot 
from Mr. Krook, " to kill a dozen people." 

" Do you think he did it on purpose ? " asks Krook, 

" Took the over-dose ? " 

" Yes ! " Krook almost smacks his lips with the unction of 
a horrible interest. 

" I can't say. I should think it unlikely, as he has been in 
the habit of taking so much. But nobody can tell. He was 
very poor, I suppose?" 

" I suppose he was. His room don't look rich," says Krook > 
who might have changed eyes with his cat, as he casts his. 
sharp glance around. "But I have never been in it since 
he had it, and he was too close to name his circumstances 
to me." 

"Did he owe you any rent?" 

" Six weeks." 

" He will never pay it ! " says the young man, resuming 
his examination. " It is beyond a doubt that he is indeed 
as dead as Pharaoh; and to judge from his appearance and 
condition, I should think it a happy release. Yet he must 
have been a good figure when a youth, and I dare say 
good-looking." He says this, not unfeelingly, while sitting 
on the bedstead's edge, with his face towards that other face, 
and his hand upon the region of the heart. "I recollect 
once thinking there was something in his manner, uncouth 
as it was, that denoted a fall in life, Was that so ? " he 
continues, looking round, 



170 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Krook replies, " You might as well ask me to describe the 
ladies whose heads of hair I have got in sacks down-stairs. 
Than that he was my lodger for a year and a half, and lived 
or didn't live by law-writing, I know no more of him.' 1 

During this dialogue, Mr. Tulkinghorn has stood aloof by 
the old portmanteau, with his hands behind him, equally 
removed, to all appearance, from all three kinds of interest 
exhibited near the bed from the young surgeon's professional 
interest in death, noticeable as being quite apart from his 
remarks on the deceased as an individual ; from the old man's 
unction ; and the little crazy woman's awe. His imperturb 
able face has been as inexpressive as his rusty clothes. One 
could not even say he has been thinking all this while. He 
has shown neither patience nor impatience, nor attention nor 
abstraction. He has shown nothing but his shell. As easily 
might the tone of a delicate musical instrument be inferred 
from its case, as the tone of Mr. Tulkinghorn from his case. 

He now interposes ; addressing the young surgeon, in his 
unmoved, professional way. 

" I looked in here," he observes, " just before you, with the 
intention of giving this deceased man, whom I never saw 
alive, some employment at his trade of copying. I had heard 
of him from my stationer Snagsby of Cook's Court. Since 
no one here knows anything about him, it might be as 
well to send for Snagsby. Ah ! " to the little crazy woman, 
who has often seen him in Court, and whom he has often 
seen, and who proposes, in frightened dumb-show, to go for 
the law-stationer. " Suppose you do ! " 

While she is gone, the surgeon abandons his hopeless in 
vestigation, and covers its subject with the patch work counter 
pane. Mr. Krook and he interchange a word or two. Mr. 
Tulkinghorn says nothing; but stands, ever, near the old 
portmanteau. 

Mr. Snagsby arrives hastily, in his grey coat and his black 
sleeves. " Dear me, dear me," he says ; " and it has come to 
this, has it ! Bless my soul ! " 



ABOUT NEMO OR NIMROD. 171 

"Can you give the person of the house any information 
about this unfortunate creature, Snagsby?" inquires Mr. 
Tulkinghorn. "He was in arrears with his rent, it seems. 
And he must be buried, you know."" 

"Well, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, coughing his apologetic 
cough behind his hand ; " I really don't know what advice I 
could offer, except sending for the beadle." 

"I don't speak of advice," returns Mr. Tulkinghorn. "/ 
could advise " 

("No one better, sir, I am sure," says Mr. Snagsby, with 
his deferential cough.) 

"I speak of affording some clue to his connexions, or to 
where he came from, or to anything concerning him." 

"I assure you, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, after prefacing his 
reply with his cough of general propitiation, " that I no more 
know where he came from than I know " 

" Where he has gone to, perhaps," suggests the surgeon, to 
help him out. 

A pause. Mr. Tulkinghorn looking at the law-stationer. 
Mr. Krook, with his mouth open, looking for somebody to 
speak next. 

"As to his connexions, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, "if a 
person was to say to me, ' Snagsby, here's twenty thousand 
pound down, ready for you in the Bank of England, if 
you'll only name one of 'em,' I couldn't do it, sir ! About a 
year and a half ago to the best of my belief at the time 
when he first came to lodge at the present rag and bottle 
shop " 

" That was the time ! " says Krook, with a nod. 

" About a year and a half ago," says Mr. Snagsby, strength 
ened, "he came into our place one morning after breakfast, 
and, finding my little woman (which I name Mrs. Snagsby 
when I use that appellation) in our shop, produced a specimen 
of his handwriting, and gave her to understand that he was in 
want of copying work to do, and was not to put too fine a 
point upon it " a favourite apology for plain-speaking with 



172 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Snagsby, which he always offers with a sort of argumenta 
tive frankness, " hard up ! My little woman is not in general 
partial to strangers, particular not to put too fine a point 
upon it when they want anything. But she was rather took 
by something about this person; whether by his being un- 
shaved, or by his hair being in want of attention, or by what 
other ladies'* reasons, I leave you to judge; and she accepted 
of the specimen, and likewise of the address. My little 
woman hasn^t a good ear for names, 11 proceeds Mr. Snagsby, 
after consulting his cough of consideration behind his hand, 
"and she considered Nemo equally the same as Nimrod. In 
consequence of which, she got into a habit of saying to me 
at meals, 'Mr. Snagsby, you haven't found Nimrod any work 
yet ! ' or ' Mr. Snagsby, why didn't you give that eight-and- 
thirty Chancery folio in Jarndyce, to Nimrod ? 1 or such like. 
And that is the way he gradually fell into job-work at our 
place; and that is the most I know of him, except that he 
_was a quick hand, and a hand not sparing of night-work ; 
and that if you gave him out, say five-and-forty folio on the 
Wednesday night, you would have it brought in on the 
Thursday morning. All of which " Mr. Snagsby concludes 
by politely motioning with his hat towards the bed, as much 
as to add, "I have no doubt my honourable friend would 
confirm, if he were in a condition to do it. 11 

" Hadn't you better see, 11 says Mr. Tulkinghorn to Krook, 
" whether he had any papers that may enlighten you ? There 
will be an Inquest, and you will be asked the question. You 
can read ? " 

"No, I can't, 11 returns the old man, with a sudden grin. 

"Snagsby, 11 says Mr. Tulkinghorn, "look over the room 
for him. He will get into some trouble or difficulty, other 
wise. Being here, Til wait, if you make haste ; and then I 
can testify on his behalf, if it should ever be necessary, that 
all was fair and right. If you will hold the candle for Mr. 
Snagsby, my friend, he'll soon see whether there is anything 
to help you, 11 



A FRUITLESS SEARCH. 173 

"In the first place, here's an old portmanteau, sir," says 
Snagsby. 

Ah, to be sure, so there is! Mr. Tulkinghorn does not 
appear to have seen it before, though he is standing so close 
to it, and though there is very little else, Heaven knows. 

The marine-store merchant holds the light, and the law- 
stationer conducts the search. The surgeon leans against the 
corner of the chimney-piece ; Miss Flite peeps and trembles just 
within the door. The apt old scholar of the old school, with 
his dull black breeches tied with ribbons at the knees, his 
large black waistcoat, his long-sleeved black coat, and his 
wisp of limp white neckerchief tied in the bow the Peerage 
knows so well, stands in exactly the same place and attitude. 

There are some worthless articles of clothing in the old 
portmanteau; there is a bundle of pawnbrokers'* duplicates, 
those turnpike tickets on the road of Poverty ; there is a 
crumpled paper, smelling of opium, on which are scrawled 
rough memoranda as, took, such a day, so many grains; 
took, such another day, so many more begun some time ago, 
as if with the intention of being regularly continued, but 
soon left off. There are a few dirty scraps of newspapers, all 
referring to Coroners'" Inquests ; there is nothing else. They 
search the cupboard, and the drawer of the ink-splashed 
table. There is not a morsel of an old letter, or of any 
other writing, in either. The young surgeon examines the 
dress on the law-writer. A knife and some odd halfpence 
are all he finds. Mr. Snagsby's suggestion is the practical 
suggestion after all, and the beadle must be called in. 

So the little crazy lodger goes for the beadle, and the rest 
come out of the room. " Don't leave the cat there ! " says 
the surgeon : " that won't do ! " Mr. Krook therefore drives 
her out before him ; and she goes furtively down-stairs, wind 
ing her lithe tail and licking her lips. 

" Good night ! " says Mr. Tulkinghorn ; and goes home to 
Allegory and meditation. 

By this time the news has got into the court. Groups of 



174 BLEAK HOUSE. 

its inhabitants assemble to discuss the thing; and the out 
posts of the army of observation (principally boys) are pushed 
forward to Mr. Krook's window, which they closely invest. 
A policeman has already walked up to the room, and walked 
down again to the door, where he stands like a tower, only 
condescending to see the boys at his base occasionally; but 
whenever he does see them, they quail and fall back. Mrs. 
Perkins, who has not been for some weeks on speaking terms 
with Mrs. Piper, in consequence of an unpleasantness origin 
ating in young Perkins having " fetched " young Piper " a 
crack," renews her friendly intercourse on this auspicious 
occasion. The potboy at the corner, who is a privileged 
amateur, as possessing official knowledge of life, and having 
to deal with drunken men occasionally, exchanges confidential 
communications with the policeman, and has the appearance 
of an impregnable youth, unassailable by truncheons and 
unconfinable in station-houses. People talk across the court 
out of window, and bare-headed scouts come hurrying in 
from Chancery Lane to know what's the matter. The general 
feeling seems to be that it's a blessing Mr. Krook warn't made 
away with first, mingled with a little natural disappointment 
that he was not. In the midst of this sensation, the beadle 
arrives. 

The beadle, though generally understood in the neighbour 
hood to be a ridiculous institution, is not without a certain 
popularity for the moment, if it were only as a man who 
is going to see the body. The policeman considers him an 
imbecile civilian, a remnant of the barbarous watchmen-times ; 
but gives him admission, as something that must be borne 
with until Government shall abolish him. The sensation is 
heightened, as the tidings spread from mouth to mouth that 
the beadle is on the ground, and has gone in. 

By-and-by the beadle comes out, once more intensifying 
the sensation, which has rather languished in the interval. He 
is understood to be in want of witnesses, for the Inquest 
to-morrow, who can tell the Coroner and Jury anything 



THE BEADLE ON THE GROUND. 175 

whatever respecting the deceased. Is immediately referred 
to innumerable people who can tell nothing whatever. Is 
made more imbecile by being constantly informed that Mrs. 
Green's son " was a law-writer his-self, and knowed him better 
than anybody 1 " which son of Mrs. Green's appears, on in 
quiry, to be at the present time aboard a vessel bound for 
China, three months out, but considered accessible by telegraph, 
on application to the Lords of the Admiralty. Beadle goes 
into various shops and parlours, examining the inhabitants; 
always shutting the door first, and by exclusion, delay, and 
general idiotcy, exasperating the public. Policeman seen 
to smile to potboy. Public loses interest, and undergoes 
reaction. Taunts the beadle, in shrill youthful voices, with 
having boiled a boy ; choruses fragments of a popular song 
to that effect, and importing that the boy was made into 
soup for the workhouse. Policeman at last finds it necessary 
to support the law, and seize a vocalist ; who is released upon 
the flight of the rest, on condition of his getting out of this 
then, come ! and cutting it a condition he immediately 
observes. So the sensation dies off for the time; and the 
unmoved policeman (to whom a little opium, more or less, is 
nothing), with his shining hat, stiff stock, inflexible great-coat, 
stout belt and bracelet, and all things fitting, pursues his 
lounging way with a heavy tread : beating the palms of his 
white gloves one against the other, and stopping now and 
then, at a street-corner, to look casually about for anything 
between a lost child and a murder. 

Under cover of the night, the feeble-minded beadle comes 
flitting about Chancery Lane with his summonses, in which 
every Juror's name is wrongly spelt, and nothing rightly 
spelt but the beadle's own name, which nobody can read or 
wants to know. The summonses served, and his witnesses 
forewarned, the beadle goes to Mr. Krook's, to keep a small 
appointment he has made with certain paupers ; who, pre 
sently arriving, are conducted up-stairs ; where they leave 
the great eyes in the shutter something new to stare at, 



176 BLEAK HOUSE. 

in that last shape which earthly lodgings take for No one 
and for Every one. 

And, all that night, the coffin stands ready by the old 
portmanteau; and the lonely figure on the bed, whose path 
in life has lain through five-and-forty years, lies there, with 
no more track behind him, that any one can trace, than a 
deserted infant. 

Next day the court is all alive is like a fair, as Mrs. 
Perkins, more than reconciled to Mrs. Piper, says, in amicable 
conversation with that excellent woman. The Coroner is to 
sit in the first-floor room at the Sol's Arms, where the Har 
monic Meetings take place twice a-week, and where the chair 
is filled by a gentleman of professional celebrity, faced by 
Little Swills, the comic vocalist, who hopes (according to the 
bill in the window) that his friends will rally round him, and 
support first-rate talent. The Sol's Arms does a brisk stroke 
of business all the morning. Even children so require sustain 
ing, under the general excitement, that a pieman who has 
established himself for the occasion at the corner of the court, 
says his brandy-balls go off like smoke. What time the 
beadle, hovering between the door of Mr. Krook's establish 
ment and the door of the Sol's Arms, shows the curiosity in 
his keeping to a few discreet spirits, and accepts the compli 
ment of a glass of ale or so in return. 

At the appointed hour arrives the Coroner, for whom the 
Jurymen are waiting, and who is received with a salute of 
skittles from the good dry skittle-ground attached to the Sol's 
Arms. The Coroner frequents more public-houses than any 
man alive. The smell of sawdust, beer, tobacco-smoke, and 
spirits, is inseparable in his vocation from death in its most 
awful shapes. He is conducted by the beadle and the land 
lord to the Harmonic Meeting Room, where he puts his hat 
on the piano, and takes a Windsor-chair at the head of a 
long table, formed of several short tables put together, and 
ornamented with glutinous rings in endless involutions, made 
by pots and glasses. As many of the Jury as can crowd 



THE CORONER'S INQUEST. 177 

together at the table sit there. The rest get among the 
spittoons and pipes, or lean against the piano. Over the 
Coroner's head is a small iron garland, the pendant handle 
of a bell, which rather gives the Majesty of the Court the 
appearance of going to be hanged presently. 

Call over and swear the Jury ! While the ceremony is in 
progress, sensation is created by the entrance of a chubby 
little man in a large shirt-collar, with a moist eye, and an 
inflamed nose, who modestly takes a position near the door 
as one of the general public, but seems familiar with the room 
too. A whisper circulates that this is Little Swills^ It is 
considered not unlikely that he will get up an imitation of 
the Coroner, and make it the principal feature of the Har 
monic Meeting in the evening. 

"Well, gentlemen " the Coroner begins. 

" Silence there, will you ! " says the beadle. Not to the 
Coroner, though it might appear so." 

"Well, gentlemen," resumes the Coroner. "You are im 
panelled here, to inquire into the death of a certain man. 
Evidence will be given before you, as to the circumstances 
attending that death, and you will give your verdict according 
to the skittles ; they must be stopped, you know, beadle ! 
evidence, and not according to anything else. The first thing 
to be done, is to view the body." 

" Make way there ! " cries the beadle. 

So they go out in a loose procession, something after the 
manner of a straggling funeral, and make their inspection in 
Mr. Krook's back second floor, from which a few of the Jury 
men retire pale and precipitately. The beadle is very careful 
that two gentlemen not very neat about the cuffs and buttons 
(for whose accommodation he has provided a special little 
table near the Coroner, in the Harmonic Meeting Room) 
should see all that is to be seen. For they are the public 
chroniclers of such inquiries, by the line; and he is not 
superior to the universal human infirmity, but hopes to read 
in print what "Mooney, the active and intelligent beadle of 

VOL. i. N 



178 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the district," said and did ; and even aspires to see the name 
of Mooney as familiarly and patronisingly mentioned as the 
name of the Hangman is, according to the latest examples. 

Little Swills is waiting for the Coroner and Jury on their 
return. Mr. Tulkinghorn, also. Mr. Tulkinghorn is received 
with distinction, and seated near the Coroner; between that 
high judicial officer, a bagatelle-board, and the coal-box. The 
inquiry proceeds. The Jury learn how the subject of their 
inquiry died, and learn no more about him. " A very eminent 
solicitor is in attendance, gentlemen," says the Coroner, " who, 
I am informed, was accidentally present, when discovery of 
the death was made ; but he could only repeat the evidence 
you have already heard from the surgeon, the landlord, the 
lodger, and the law-stationer; and it is not necessary to 
trouble him. Is anybody in attendance who knows anything 
more ? " 

Mrs. Piper pushed forward by Mrs. Perkins. Mrs. Piper 
sworn. 

Anastasia Piper, gentlemen. Married woman. Now, Mrs. 
Piper what have you got to say about this ? 

Why, Mrs. Piper has a good deal to say, chiefly in 
parentheses and without punctuation, but not much to tell. 
Mrs. Piper lives in the court (which her husband is a cabinet 
maker), and it has long been well beknown among the 
neighbours (counting from the day next but one before the 
half-baptising of Alexander James Piper aged eighteen 
months and four days old on accounts of not being expected 
to live such was the sufferings gentlemen of that child in his 
gums) as the Plaintive so Mrs. Piper insists on calling the 
deceased was reported to have sold himself. Thinks it was 
the Plaintive's air in which that report originatinin. See 
the Plaintive often and considered as his air was feariocious 
and not to be allowed to go about some children being 
timid (and if doubted hoping Mrs. Perkins may be brought 
forard for she is here and will do credit to her husband and 
herself and family). Has seen the Plaintive wexed and 



A DEPRAVED WITNESS. 



179 



worrited by the children (for children they will ever be 
and you cannot expect them specially if of playful disposi 
tions to be Methoozellers which you was not yourself). On 
accounts of this and his dark looks has often dreamed as she 
see him take a pick-axe from his pocket and split Johnny's 
head (which the child knows not fear and has repeatually 
called after him close at his eels). Never however see the 
Plaintive take a pick-axe or any other wepping far from it. 
Has seen him hurry away when run and called after as if 
not partial to children and never see him speak to neither 
child nor grown person at any time (excepting the boy that 
sweeps the crossing down the lane over the way round the 
corner which if he was here would tell you that he has been 
seen a-speaking to him frequent). 

Says the Coroner, is that boy here? Says the beadle, no, 
sir, he is not here. Says the Coroner, go and fetch him 
then. In the absence of the active and intelligent, the 
Coroner converses with Mr. Tulkinghorn. 

O ! Here's the boy, gentlemen ! 

Here he is, very muddy, very hoarse, very ragged. Now, 
boy ! But stop a minute. Caution. This boy must be 
put through a few preliminary paces. 

Name, Jo. Nothing else that he knows on. Don't know 
that everybody has two names. Never heerd of sich a think. 
Don't know that Jo is short for a longer name. Thinks it 
long enough for him. He don't find no fault with it. Spell 
it ? No. He can't spell it. No father, no mother, no 
friends. Never been to school. What's home? Knows a 
broom's a broom, and knows it's wicked to tell a lie. Don't 
recollect who told him about the broom, or about the lie, 
but knows both. Can't exactly say what'll be done to him 
he's dead if he tells a lie to the gentlemen here, but 

lieves it'll be something wery bad to punish him, and serve 
him right and so he'll tell the truth. 

" This won't do, gentlemen ! " said the Coroner, with a 
melancholy shake of the head. 



180 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"Don't you think you can receive his evidence, sir?" asks 
an attentive Juryman. 

"Out of the question," says the Coroner. "You have 
heard the boy. 'Can't exactly say 1 won't do, you know. 
We can't take that, in a Court of Justice, gentlemen. It's 
terrible depravity. Put the boy aside." 

Boy put aside; to the great edification of the audience; 
especially of Little Swills, the Comic Vocalist. 

Now. Is there any other witness ? No other witness. 

Very well, gentlemen ! Here's a man unknown, proved to 
have been in the habit of taking opium in large quantities 
for a year and a half, found dead of too much opium. If 
you think you have any evidence to lead you to the con 
clusion that he committed suicide, you will come to that 
conclusion. If you think it is a case of accidental death, 
you will find a Verdict accordingly. 

Verdict accordingly. Accidental death. No doubt. 
Gentlemen, you are discharged. Good afternoon. 

While the Coroner buttons his great-coat, Mr. Tulking- 
horn and he give private audience to the rejected witness in 
a corner. 

That graceless creature only knows that the dead man 
(whom he recognised just now by his yellow face and black 
hair) was sometimes hooted and pursued about the streets. 
That one cold winter night, when he, the boy, was shivering 
in a doorway near his crossing, the man turned to look at 
him, and came back, and, having questioned him and found 
that he had not a friend in the world, said, " Neither have 
I. Not one ! " and gave him the price of a supper and a 
night's lodging. That the man had often spoken to him 
since; and asked him whether he slept sound at night, and 
how he bore cold and hunger, and whether he ever wished to 
die; and similar strange questions. That when the man had 
no money, he would say in passing, "I am as poor as you 
to-day, Jo;" but that when he had any, he had always (as 
the boy most heartily believes) been glad to give him some. 



LITTLE SWILLS. 181 

" He was wery good to me," says the boy, wiping his eyes 
with his wretched sleeve. " Wen I see him a-layiiV so stritched 
out just now, I wished he could have heerd me tell him so. 
He wos wery good to me, he wos ! " 

As he shuffles down-stairs, Mr. Snagsby, lying in wait for 
him, puts a half-crown in his hand. " If you ever see me 
coming past your crossing with my little woman I mean a 
lady " says Mr. Snagsby, with his finger on his nose, 
"don't allude to it!" 

For some little time the Jurymen hang about the Sol's 
Arms colloquially. In the sequel, half-a-dozen are caught up 
in a cloud of pipe-smoke that pervades the parlour of the 
SoFs Arms ; two stroll to Hampstead ; and four engage to go 
half-price to the play at night, and top up with oysters. 
Little Swills is treated on several hands. Being asked what 
he thinks of the proceedings, characterises them (his strength 
lying in a slangular direction) as "a rummy start." The 
landlord of the SoFs Arms, finding Little Swills so popular, 
commends him highly to the Jurymen and public ; observing 
that, for a song in character, he don't know his equal, and 
that that man's character-wardrobe would fill a cart. 

Thus, gradually the SoFs Arms melts into the shadowy 
night, and then flares out of it strong in gas. The 
Harmonic Meeting hour arriving, the gentleman of pro 
fessional celebrity takes the chair; is faced (red-faced) by 
Little Swills ; their friends rally round them, and support 
first-rate talent. In the zenith of the evening, Little Swills 
says, Gentlemen, if you'll permit me, I'll attempt a short 
description of a scene of real life that came off here to-day. 
Is much applauded and encouraged; goes out of the room 
as Swills ; comes in as the Coroner (not the least in the 
world like him); describes the Inquest, with recreative 
intervals of piano-forte accompaniment to the refrain With 
his (the Coroner's) tippy tol li doll, tippy tol lo doll, tippy 
tol li doll, Dee ! 

The jingling piano at last is silent, and the Harmonic 



182 BLEAK HOUSE. 

friends rally round their pillows. Then there is rest around 
the lonely figure, now laid in its last earthly habitation ; 
and it is watched by the gaunt eyes in the shutters through 
some quiet hours of night. If this forlorn man could have 
been prophetically seen lying here, by the mother at whose 
breast he nestled, a little child, with eyes upraised to her 
loving face, and soft hand scarcely knowing how to close 
upon the neck to which it crept, what an impossibility the 
vision would have seemed ! O, if, in brighter days, the now- 
extinguished fire within him ever burned for one woman who 
held him in her heart, where is she, while these ashes are 
above the ground ! 

It is anything but a night of rest at Mr. Snagsby's, in 
Cook's Court ; where Guster murders sleep, by going, as Mr. 
Snagsby himself allows not to put too fine a point upon it 
out of one fit into twenty. The occasion of this seizure is, 
that Guster has a tender heart, and a susceptible something 
that possibly might have been imagination, but for Tooting 
and her patron saint. Be it what it may, now, it was so 
clirefully impressed at tea-time by Mr. Snagsby's account of 
the inquiry at which he had assisted, that at supper-time 
she projected herself into the kitchen, preceded by a flying 
Dutch-cheese, and fell into a fit of unusual duration : which 
she only came out of to go into another, and another, and 
so on through a chain of fits, with short intervals between, 
of which she has pathetically availed herself by consuming 
them in entreaties to Mrs. Snagsby not to give her warning 
" when she quite comes to ; " and also in appeals to the 
whole establishment to lay her down on the stones, and go 
to bed. Hence, Mr. Snagsby, at last hearing the cock at 
the little dairy in Cursitor Street go into that disinterested 
ecstasy of his on the subject of daylight, says, drawing a 
long breath, though the most patient of men, "I thought 
you was dead, I am sure ! " 

What question this enthusiastic fowl supposes he settles 
when he strains himself to such an extent, or why he should 



A GRAVE- YARD AND ITS VISITOR. 183 

thus crow (so men crow on various triumphant public occa- 
sions, however) about what cannot be of any moment to him, 
is his affair. It is enough that daylight comes, morning 
comes, noon comes. 

Then the active and intelligent, who has got into the 
morning papers as such, comes with his pauper company to 
Mr. Krook's, and bears off the body of our dear brother here 
departed, to a hemmed-in churchyard, pestiferous and obscene, 
whence malignant diseases are communicated to the bodies of 
our dear brothers and sisters who have not departed ; while 
our dear brothers and sisters who hang about official back 
stairs would to Heaven they had departed ! are very com 
placent and agreeable. Into a beastly scrap of ground which 
a Turk would reject as a savage abomination, and a Caffre 
would shudder at, they bring our dear brother here departed, 
to receive Christian burial. 

With houses looking on, on every side, save where a reek 
ing little tunnel of a court gives access to the iron gate 
with every villainy of life in action close on death, and every 
poisonous element of death in action close on life here, they 
lower our dear brother down a foot or two : here, sow him in 
corruption, to be raised in corruption : an avenging ghost at 
many a sick-bedside : a shameful testimony to future ages, how 
civilisation and barbarism walked this boastful island together. 

Come night, come darkness, for you cannot come too soon, 
or stay too long, by such a place as this ! Come, straggling 
lights into the windows of the ugly houses ; and you who do 
iniquity therein, do it at least with this dread scene shut 
out ! Come, flame of gas, burning so sullenly above the iron 
gate, on which the poisoned air deposits its witch-ointment 
slimy to the touch ! It is well that you should call to every 
passer-by, " Look here ! " 

With the night, comes a slouching figure through the 
tunnel-court, to the outside of the iron gate. It holds the 
gate with its hands, and looks in between the bars ; stands 
looking in, for a little while. 



184 BLEAK HOUSE. 

. It then, with an old broom it carries, softly sweeps the 
step, and makes the archway clean. It does so, very busily 
and trimly ; looks in again, a little while ; and so departs. 

Jo, is it thou ? Well, well ! Though a rejected witness, 
who "can't exactly say" what will be done to him in greater 
hands than men's, thou art not quite in outer darkness. 
There is something like a distant ray of light in thy muttered 
reason for this : 

" He wos wery good to me, he wos ! " 



CHAPTER XII. 

ON THE WATCH. 

IT has left off raining down in Lincolnshire, at last, and 
Chesney Wold has taken heart. Mrs. Rouncewell is full of 
hospitable cares, for Sir Leicester and my Lady are coming 
home from Paris. The fashionable intelligence has found it 
out, and communicates the glad tidings to benighted England. 
It has also found out, that they will entertain a brilliant 
and distinguished circle of the elite of the beau monde (the 
fashionable intelligence is weak in English, but a giant 
refreshed in French), at the ancient and hospitable family 
seat in Lincolnshire. 

For the greater honour of the brilliant and distinguished 
circle, and of Chesney Wold into the bargain, the broken arch 
of the bridge in the park is mended ; and the water, now 
retired within its proper limits and again spanned gracefully, 
makes a figure in the prospect from the house. The clear 
cold sunshine glances into the brittle woods, and approvingly 
beholds the sharp wind scattering the leaves and drying the 
moss. It glides over the park after the moving shadows of 
the clouds, and chases them, and never catches them, all 
day. It looks in at the windows, and touches the ancestral 
portraits with bars and patches of brightness, never contem 
plated by the painters. Athwart the picture of my Lady, 
over the great chimney-piece, it throws a broad bend-sinister 
of light that strikes down crookedly into the hearth, and 
seems to rend it. 



186 BLEAK HOUSE, 

Through the same cold sunshine, and the same sharp wind, 
my Lady and Sir Leicester, in their travelling chariot (my 
Lady's woman, and Sir Leicester's man affectionate in the 
rumble), start for home. With a considerable amount of 
jingling and whip-cracking, and many plunging demonstra 
tions on the part of two bare-backed horses, arid two Centaurs 
with glazed hats, jack-boots, and flowing manes and tails, 
they rattle out of the yard of the Hotel Bristol in the Place 
Vendome, and canter between the sun-and-shadow-chequered 
colonnade of the Rue de Rivoli and the garden of the ill- 
fated palace of a headless king and queen, off by the Place 
of Concord, and the Elysian Fields, and the Gate of the Star, 
out of Paris. 

Sooth to say, they cannot go away too fast; for, even 
here, my Lady Dedlock has been bored to death. Concert, 
assembly, opera, theatre, drive, nothing is new to my Lady, 
under the worn-out heavens. Only last Sunday, when poor 
wretches were gay within the walls, playing with children 
among the clipped trees and the statues in the Palace Garden ; 
walking, a score abreast, in the Elysian Fields, made more 
Elysian by performing dogs and wooden horses ; between 
whiles filtering (a few) through the gloomy Cathedral of our 
Lady, to say a word or two at the base of a pillar, within 
flare of a rusty little gridiron-full of gusty little tapers 
without the walls, encompassing Paris with dancing, 
love-making, wine-drinking, tobacco-smoking, tomb-visiting, 
billiard, card, and domino playing, quack-doctoring, and much 
murderous refuse, animate and inanimate only last Sunday, 
my Lady, in the desolation of Boredom and the clutch of 
Giant Despair, almost hated her own maid for being in 
spirits. 

She cannot, therefore, go too fast from Paris. Weariness 
of soul lies before her, as it lies behind her Ariel has put a 
girdle of it round the whole earth, and it cannot be unclasped 
but the imperfect remedy is always to fly, from the last 
place where it has been experienced. Fling Paris back into the 



' 



SIR LEICESTER AND LADY DEDLOCK. 187 

distance, then, exchanging it for endless avenues and cross- 
avenues of wintry trees! And, when next beheld, let it be 
some leagues away, with the Gate of the Star a white speck 
glittering in the sun, and the city a mere mound in a plain : 
two dark square towers rising out of it, and light and shadow 
descending on it aslant, like the angels in Jacob's dream ! 

Sir Leicester is generally in a complacent state, and rarely 
bored. When he has nothing else to do, he can always con 
template his own greatness. It is a considerable advantage 
to a man, to have so inexhaustible a subject. After reading 
his letters, he leans back in his corner of the carriage, and 
generally reviews his importance to society. 

"You have an unusual amount of correspondence this 
morning ? " says my Lady, after a long time. She is fatigued 
with reading. Has almost read a page in twenty miles. 

" Nothing in it, though. Nothing whatever." 

" I saw one of Mr. Tulkinghorn's long effusions, I think ? " 

" You see everything," says Sir Leicester, with admiration. 

"Ha!' 1 sighs my Lady. "He is the most tiresome of 
men!" 

"He sends I really beg your pardon he sends," says Sir 
Leicester, selecting the letter, and unfolding it, "a message 
to you. Our stopping to change horses, as I came to his 
postscript, drove it out of my memory. I beg you'll excuse 
me. He says " Sir Leicester is so long in taking out 
his eye-glass and adjusting it, that my Lady looks a little 
irritated. " He says, ' In the matter of the right of way ' 
I beg your pardon, that's not the place. He says yes ! Here 
I have it ! He says, ' I beg my respectful compliments to my 
Lady, who, I hope, has benefited by the change. Will you 
do me the favour to mention (as it may interest her), that I 
have something to tell her on her return, in reference to the 
person who copied the affidavit in the Chancery suit, which 
so powerfully stimulated her curiosity. I have seen him.'" 
_ My Lady, leaning forward, looks out of her window. 

"That's the message," observes Sir Leicester. 



188 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" I should like to walk a little," says my Lady, still looking 
out of her window. 

" Walk ! " repeats Sir Leicester, in a tone of surprise. 

" I should like to walk a little," says my Lady, with un 
mistakable distinctness. "Please to stop the carriage." 

The carnage is stopped, the affectionate man alights from 
the rumble, opens the door, and lets down the steps, obedient 
to an impatient motion of my Lady's hand. My Lady alights 
so quickly, and walks away so quickly, that Sir Leicester, for 
all his scrupulous politeness, is unable to assist her, and is 
left behind. A space of a minute or two has elapsed before 
he comes up with her. She smiles, looks very handsome, 
takes his arm, lounges with him for a quarter of a mile, is 
very much bored, and resumes her seat in the carriage. 

The rattle and clatter continue through the greater part of 
three days, with more or less of bell-jingling and whip-crack 
ing, and more or less plunging of Centaurs and bare-backed 
horses. Their courtly politeness to each other, at the Hotels 
where they tarry, is the theme of general admiration. Though 
my Lord is a little aged for my Lady, says Madame, the 
hostess of the Golden Ape, and though he might be her 
amiable father, one can see at a glance that they love each 
other. One observes my Lord with his white hair, standing, 
hat in hand, to help my Lady to and from the carriage. 
One observes my Lady, how recognisant of my Lord's 
politeness, with an inclination of her gracious head, and the 
concession of her so-genteel fingers ! It is ravishing ! 

The sea has no appreciation of great men, but knocks 
them about like the small fry. It is habitually hard upon 
Sir Leicester, whose countenance it greenly mottles in the 
manner of sage-cheese, and in whose aristocratic system it 
effects a dismal revolution. It is the Radical of Nature to 
him. Nevertheless, his dignity gets over it, after stopping to 
refit : and he goes on with my Lady for Chesney Wold, lying 
only one night in London on the way to Lincolnshire. 

Through the same cold sunlight colder as the day declines, 



ROSA. 189 

nd through the same sharp wind sharper as the sepa 
rate shadows of bare trees gloom together in the woods, and 
as the Ghost's Walk, touched at the western corner by a 
pile of fire in the sky, resigns itself to coming night, they 
drive into the park. The Rooks, swinging in their lofty 
houses in the elm-tree avenue, seem to discuss the question 
of the occupancy of the carriage as it passes underneath; 
some agreeing that Sir Leicester and my Lady are come 
down ; some arguing with malcontents who won't admit it ; 
now, all consenting to consider the question disposed of; now, 
all breaking out again in violent debate, incited by one obsti 
nate and drowsy bird, who will persist in putting in a last 
contradictory croak. Leaving them to swing and caw, the 
travelling chariot rolls on to the house ; where fires gleam 
warmly through some of the windows, though not through 
so many as to give an inhabited expression to the darkening 
mass of front. But the brilliant and distinguished circle will 
soon do that. 

Mrs. Rouncewell is in attendance, and receives Sir Leicester's 
customary shake of the hand with a profound curtsey. 

" How do you do, Mrs. Rouncewell ? I am glad to see 
you." 

" I hope I have the honour of welcoming you in good health. 
Sir Leicester?" 

"In excellent health, Mrs. Rouncewell." 
"My Lady is looking charmingly well," says Mrs. Rounce 
well, with another curtsey. 

My Lady signifies, without profuse expenditure of words, 
that she is as wearily well as she can hope to be. 

But Rosa is in the distance, behind the housekeeper ; and 
my Lady, who has not subdued the quickness of her observa 
tion, whatever else she may have conquered, asks : 
" Who is that girl ? " 

" A young scholar of mine, my Lady. Rosa." 
" Come here, Rosa ! " Lady Dedlock beckons her, with even 
an appearance of interest. " Why, do you know how pretty 



190 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



you are, child?" she says, touching her shoulder with her 
two forefingers. 

Rosa, very much abashed, says, "No, if you please, my 
Lady ! " and glances up, and glances down, and don't know 
where to look, but looks all the prettier. 

"How old are you? 1 ' 

"Nineteen, my Lady.' 

"Nineteen," repeats my Lady thoughtfully. "Take care 
they don't spoil you by flattery." 

" Yes, my Lady." 

My Lady taps her dimpled cheek with the same delicate 
gloved fingers, and goes on to the foot of the oak staircase, 
where Sir Leicester pauses for her as her knightly escort. A 
staring old Dedlock in a panel, as large as life and as dull, 
looks as if he didn't know what to make of it which was 
probably his general state of mind in the days of Queen 
Elizabeth. 

That evening, in the housekeeper's room, Rosa can do 
nothing but murmur Lady Dedlock's praises. She is so 
affable, so graceful, so beautiful, so elegant ; has such a sweet 
voice and such a thrilling touch, that Rosa can feel it yet! 
Mrs. Rouncewell confirms all this, not without personal pride, 
reserving only the one point of affability. Mrs. Rouncewell 
is not quite sure as to that. Heaven forbid that she should 
say a syllable in dispraise of any member of that excellent 
family; above all, of my Lady, whom the whole world 
admires ; but if my Lady would only be " a little more free,' 
not quite so cold and distant, Mrs. Rouncewell thinks she 
would be more affable. 

" Tis almost a pity," Mrs. Rouncewell adds only " almost,' 
because it borders on impiety to suppose that anything could 
be better than it is, in such an express dispensation as the 
Dedlock affairs ; " that my Lady has no family. If she had 
had a daughter now, a grown young lady, to interest her, I 
think she would have had the only kind of excellence she 
wants." 



MY LADY'S MAID. 191 

" Might not that have made her still more proud, grand 
mother ? " says Watt ; who has been home and come back 
again, he is such a good grandson. 

" More and most, my dear," returns the housekeeper with 
dignity, " are words it's not my place to use nor so much as 
to hear applied to any drawback on my Lady.*" 

" I beg your pardon, grandmother. But she is proud, is 
she not ? " 

"If she is, she has reason to be. The Dedlock family 
have always reason to be." 

Well ! " says Watt, " it's to be hoped they line out of 
their Prayer-Books a certain passage for the common people 
about pdde and vainglory. Forgive me, grandmother ! Only 
a joke ! " 

" Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, my dear, are not fit 
subjects for joking." 

" Sir Leicester is no joke by any means," says Watt ; "and 
I humbly ask his pardon. I suppose, grandmother, that even 
with the family and their guests down here, there is no 
objection to my prolonging my stay at the Dedlock Arms 
for a day or two, as any other traveller might ? " 

" Surely, none in the world, child." 

" I am glad of that," says Watt, " because I have an 
inexpressible desire to extend my knowledge of this beautiful 
neighbourhood ." 

He happens to glance at Rosa, who looks down, and is 
very shy, indeed. But, according to the old superstition, it 
should be Rosa's ears that burn, and not her fresh bright 
cheeks ; for my Lady's maid is holding forth about her at 
this moment, with surpassing energy. 

My Lady's maid is a Frenchwoman of two-and- thirty, 
from somewhere in the southern country about Avignon and 
Marseilles a large-eyed brown woman with black hair; who 
would be handsome, but for a certain feline mouth, and 
general uncomfortable tightness of face, rendering the jaws 
too eager, and the skull too prominent. There is something 



192 BLEAK HOUSE. 

indefinably keen and wan about her anatomy ; and she has 
a watchful way of looking out of the corners of her eyes 
without turning her head, which could be pleasantly dispensed 
with especially when she is in an ill-humour and near 
knives. Through all the good taste of her dress and little 
adornments, these objections so express themselves, that she 
seems to go about like a very neat She-Wolf imperfectly 
tamed. Besides being accomplished in all the knowledge 
appertaining to her post, she is almost an Englishwoman 
in her acquaintance with the language consequently, she 
is in no want of words to shower upon Rosa for having 
attracted my Lady's attention ; and she pours them out 
with such grim ridicule as she sits at dinner, that her com 
panion, the affectionate man, is rather relieved when she 
arrives at the spoon stage of that performance. 

Ha, ha, ha ! She, Hortense, been in my Lady's service 
since five years, and always kept at the distance, and this 
doll, this puppet, caressed absolutely caressed by my Lady 
on the moment of her arriving at the house ! Ha, ha, ha ! 
" And do you know how pretty you are, child ? " " No, my 
Lady." You are right there! "And how old are you, 
child ? And take care they do not spoil you by flattery, 
child ! " O how droll ! It is the best thing altogether. 

In short, it is such an admirable thing, that Mademoiselle 
Hortense can't forget it ; but at meals for days afterwards, 
even among her countrywomen and others attached in like 
capacity to the troop of visitors, relapses into silent enjoy 
ment of the joke an enjoyment expressed, in her own 
convivial manner, by an additional tightness of face, thin 
elongation of compressed lips, and sidewise look : which 
intense appreciation of humour is frequently reflected in my 
Lady's mirrors, when my Lady is not among them. 

All the mirrors in the house are brought into action now : 
many of them after a long blank. They reflect handsome 
faces, simpering faces, youthful faces, faces of threescore-and 
ten that will not submit to be old ; the entire collection of 



DANDYISM. 193 

faces that have come to pass a January week or two at 
Chesney Wold, and which the fashionable intelligence, a 
mighty hunter before the Lord, hunts with a keen scent, from 
their breaking cover at the Court of St. James's to their 
being run down to Death. The place in Lincolnshire is all 
alive. By day, guns and voices are heard ringing in the 
woods, horsemen and carriages enliven the park roads, servants 
and hangers-on pervade the Village and the Dedlock Arms. 
Seen by night, from distant openings in the trees, the row 
of windows in the long drawing-room, where my Lady's 
picture hangs over the great chimney-piece, is like a row 
of jewels set in a black frame. On Sunday, the chill little 
church is almost warmed by so much gallant company, and 
the general flavour of the Dedlock dust is quenched in 
delicate perfumes. 

The brilliant and distinguished circle comprehends within 
it, no contracted amount of education, sense, courage, honour, 
beauty, and virtue. Yet there is something a little wrong about 
it, in despite of its immense advantages. What can it be ? 

Dandyism ? There is no King George the Fourth now 
(more's the pity !) to set the dandy fashion ; there are no 
clear-starched jack-towel neckcloths, no short-waisted coats, 
no false calves, no stays. There are no caricatures, now, of 
effeminate Exquisites so arrayed, swooning in opera boxes 
with excess of delight, and being revived by other dainty 
creatures, poking long-necked scent-bottles at their noses. 
There is no beau whom it takes four men at once to shake 
into his buckskins, or who goes to see all the executions, or 
who is troubled with the self-reproach of having once con 
sumed a pea. But is there Dandyism in the brilliant and 
distinguished circle notwithstanding, Dandyism of a more 
mischievous sort, that has got below the surface and is doing 
less harmless things than jack -to welling itself and stopping 
its own digestion, to which no rational person need parti 
cularly object? 

Why, yes. It cannot be disguised. There are, at Chesney 

VOL. i. o 



194 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Wold this January week, some ladies and gentlemen of the 
newest fashion, who have set up a Dandyism in Religion, 
for instance. Who, in mere lackadaisical want of an emotion, 
have agreed upon a little dandy talk about the Vulgar wanting 
faith in things in general ; meaning, in the things that have 
been tried and found wanting, as though a low fellow should 
unaccountably lose faith in a bad shilling, after finding it out ! 
Who would make the Vulgar very picturesque and faithful, 
by putting back the hands upon the Clock of Time, and 
cancelling a few hundred years of history. 

There are also ladies and gentlemen of another fashion, not 
so new, but very elegant, who have agreed to put a smooth 
glaze on the world, and to keep down all its realities. For 
whom everything must be languid and pretty. Who have 
found out the perpetual stoppage. Who are to rejoice at 
nothing, and be sorry for nothing. Who are not to be 
disturbed by ideas. On whom even the Fine Arts, attending 
in powder and walking backward like the Lord Chamberlain, 
must array themselves in the milliners 1 and tailors 1 patterns 
of past generations, and be particularly careful not to be in 
earnest, or to receive any impress from the moving age. 

Then there is my Lord Boodle, of considerable reputation 
with his party, who has known what office is, and who tells 
Sir Leicester Dedlock with much gravity, after dinner, that 
he really does not see to what the present age is tending. A 
debate is not what a debate used to be; the House is not 
what the House used to be ; even a Cabinet is not what it 
formerly was. He perceives with astonishment, that sup 
posing the present Government to be overthrown, the limited 
choice of the Crown, in the formation of a new Ministry, 
would lie between Lord Coodle and Sir Thomas Doodle 
supposing it to be impossible for the Duke of Foodie to act 
with Goodie, which may be assumed to be the case in con 
sequence of the breach arising out of that affair with Hoodie. 
Then, giving the Home Department and the Leadership of 
the House of Commons to Joodle, the Exchequer to Koodle, 



BOODLE AND BUFFY. 195 

the Colonies to Loodle, and the Foreign Office to Moodle, 
what are you to do with Noodle? You can't offer him the 
Presidency of the Council ; that is reserved for Poodle. You 
can't put him in the Woods and Forests ; that is hardly good 
enough for Quoodle. What follows ? That the country is 
shipwrecked, lost, and gone to pieces (as is made manifest to 
the Patriotism of Sir Leicester Dedlock), because you can't 
provide for Noodle ! 

On the other hand, the Right Honourable William Buffy, 
M.P., contends across the table with some one else, that the 
shipwreck of the country about which there is no doubt ; it 
is only the manner of it that is in question is attributable 
to Cuffy. If you had done with Cuffy what you ought to 
have done when he first came into Parliament, and had pre 
vented him from going over to Duffy, you would have got 
him into alliance with Fuffy, you would have had with you 
the weight attaching as a smart debater to Guffy, you would 
have brought to bear upon the elections the wealth of Huffy, 
you would have got in for three counties Juffy, Kuffy, and 
Luffy, and you would have strengthened your administration 
by the official knowledge and the business habits of Muffy. 
All this, instead of being as you now are, dependent on the 
mere caprice of Puffy ! 

As to this point, and as to some minor topics, there are 
differences of opinion ; but it is perfectly clear to the brilliant 
and distinguished circle, all round, that nobody is in question 
but Boodle and his retinue, and Buffy and his retinue. These 
are the great actors for whom the stage is reserved. A 
People there are, no doubt a certain large number of super 
numeraries, who are to be occasionally addressed, and relied 
upon for shouts and choruses, as on the theatrical stage ; but 
Boodle and Buffy, their followers and families, their heirs, 
executors, administrators, and assigns, are the born first- 
actors, managers, and leaders, and no others can appear upon 
the scene for ever and ever. 

In this, too, there is perhaps more Dandyism at Chesney 



196 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Wold than the brilliant and distinguished circle will find 
good for itself in the long run. For it is, even with the 
stillest and politest circles, as with the circle the necromancer 
draws around him very strange appearances may be seen in 
active motion outside. With this difference ; that, being 
realities and not phantoms, there is the greater danger of 
their breaking in. 

Chesney Wold is quite full, anyhow ; so full, that a burn 
ing sense of injury arises in the breasts of ill-lodged ladies" 1 - 
maids, and is not to be extinguished. Only one room is 
empty. It is a turret chamber of the third order of merit, 
plainly but comfortably furnished, and having an old-fashioned 
business air. It is Mr. Tulkinghorn's room, and is never 
bestowed on anybody else, for he may come at any time. He 
is not come yet. It is his quiet habit to walk across the 
park from the village, in fine weather ; to drop into this room, 
as if he had never been out of it since he was last seen there ; 
to request a servant to inform Sir Leicester that he is arrived, 
in case he should be wanted ; and to appear ten minutes 
before dinner, in the shadow of the library-door. He sleeps 
in his turret, with a complaining flag-staff over his head ; and 
has some leads outside, on which, any fine morning when he 
is down here, his black figure may be seen walking before 
breakfast like a larger species of rook. 

Every day before dinner, my Lady looks for him in the 
dusk of the library, but he is not there. Every day at 
dinner, my Lady glances down the table for the vacant place, 
that would be waiting to receive him if he had just arrived; 
but there is no vacant place. Every night, my Lady casually 
asks her maid : 

"Is Mr. Tulkinghorn come? 11 

Every night the answer is, "No, my Lady, not yet." 

One night, while having her hair undressed, my Lady loses 
herself in deep thought after this reply, until she sees her 
own brooding face, in the opposite glass, and a pair of black 
eyes curiously observing her. 



MR. TULKINGHORN ARRIVES 197 

" Be so good as to attend," says my Lady then, addressing 
the reflection of Hortense, " to your business. You can con 
template your beauty at another time." 

" Pardon ! It was your Ladyship's beauty." 

" That," says my Lady, " you needn't contemplate at all." 

At length, one afternoon a little before sunset, when the 
bright groups of figures, which have for the last hour or two 
enlivened the Ghost's Walk, are all dispersed, and only 
Sir Leicester and my Lady remain upon the terrace, Mr. 
Tulkinghorn appears. He comes towards them at his usual 
methodical pace, which is never quickened, never slackened. 
He wears his usual expressionless mask if it be a mask 
and carries family secrets in every limb of his body, and 
every crease of his dress. Whether his whole soul is devoted 
to the great, or whether he yields them nothing beyond the 
services he sells, is his personal secret. He keeps it, as he 
keeps the secrets of his clients ; he is his own client in that 
matter, and will never betray himself. 

" How do you do, Mr. Tulkinghorn ? " says Sir Leicester, 
giving him his hand. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn is quite well. Sir Leicester is quite well. 
My Lady is quite well. All highly satisfactory. The lawyer, 
with his hands behind him, walks, at Sir Leicester's side, 
along the terrace. My Lady walks upon the other side. 

" We expected you before," says Sir Leicester. A gracious 
observation. As much as to say, "Mr. Tulkinghorn, we 
remember your existence when you are not here to remind us 
of it by your presence. We bestow a fragment of our minds 
upon you, sir, you see ! " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn, comprehending it, inclines his head, and 
says he is much obliged. 

" I should have come down sooner," he explains, "Imt that 
I have been much engaged with those matters in the several 
suits between yourself and Boy thorn." 

" A man of a very ill -regulated mind," observes Sir 
Leicester, with severity. "An extremely dangerous person 



198 BLEAK HOUSE. 

in any community. A man of a very low character of 
mind." 

" He is obstinate," says Mr. Tulkinghorn. 
" It is natural to such a man to be so," says Sir Leicester, 
looking most profoundly obstinate himself. "I am not at 
all surprised to hear it." 

" The only question is," pursues the lawyer, " whether you 
will give up anything." 

" No, sir," replies Sir Leicester. " Nothing. / give up ? " 
" I don't mean anything of importance. That, of course, 
I know you would not abandon. I mean any minor 
point." 

" Mr. Tulkinghorn," returns Sir Leicester, " there can be 
no minor point between myself and Mr. Boythorn. If I go 
farther, and observe that I cannot readily conceive how any 
right of mine can be a minor point, I speak not so much 
in reference to myself as an individual, as in reference to 
the family position I have it in charge to maintain." 

Mr. Tulkinghorn inclines his head again. " I have now my 
instructions," he says. " Mr. Boythorn will give us a good 
deal of trouble " 

" It is the character of such a mind, Mr. Tulkinghorn," Sir 
Leicester interrupts him, "to give trouble. An exceedingly 
ill-conditioned, levelling person. A person who, fifty years 
ago, would probably have been tried at the Old Bailey for 
some demagogue proceeding, and severely punished if not," 
adds Sir Leicester, after a moment's pause, "if not hanged, 
drawn, and quartered." 

Sir Leicester appears to discharge his stately breast of a 
burden, in passing this capital sentence ; as if it were the next 
satisfactory thing to having the sentence executed. 

" But night is coming on," says he, " and my Lady will take 
cold. My dear, let us go in." 

As they turn towards the hall-door, Lady Dedlock addresses 
Mr. Tulkinghorn for the first time. 

" You sent me a message respecting the person whose 



DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND. 



199 



writing I happened to inquire about. It was like you to 
remember the circumstance ; I had quite forgotten it. Your 
message reminded me of it again. I can't imagine what 
association I had, with a hand like that ; but I surely had 
some." 

" You had some ? " Mr. Tulkinghorn repeats. 

" O yes ! " returns my Lady, carelessly. " I think I must 
have had some. And did you really take the trouble to find 
out the writer of that actual thing what is it ! Affidavit ? " 

"Yes." 

" How very odd ! " 

They pass into a sombre breakfast-room on the ground 
floor, lighted in the day by two deep windows. It is now 
twilight. The fire glows brightly on the panelled wall, and 
palely on the window-glass, where, through the cold reflection 
of the blaze, the colder landscape shudders in the wind, and 
a grey mist creeps along : the only traveller besides the waste 
of clouds. 

My Lady lounges in a great chair in the chimney-corner, 
and Sir Leicester takes another great chair opposite. The 
lawyer stands before the fire, with his hand out at arm's 
length, shading his face. He looks across his arm at my Lady. 

" Yes," he says, " I inquired about the man, and found him. 
And, what is very strange, I found him " 

" Not to be any out-of-the-way person, I am afraid ! " 
Lady Dedlock languidly anticipates. 

" I found him dead." 

" O dear me ! " remonstrated Sir Leicester. Not so much 
shocked by the fact, as by the fact of the fact being mentioned. 

" I was directed to his lodging a miserable, poverty-stricken 
place and I found him dead." 

"You will excuse me, Mr. Tulkinghorn," observes Sir 
Leicester. "I think the less said " 

"Pray, Sir Leicester, let me hear the story out" (it is my 
Lady speaking). "It is quite a story for twilight. How 
very shocking! Dead?" 



200 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn re-asserts it by another inclination of his 
head. " Whether by his own hand " 

" Upon my honour ! " cries Sir Leicester. " Really ! " 

" Do let me hear the story ! " says my Lady. 

" Whatever you desire, my dear. But, I must say " 

" No, you mustn't say ! Go on, Mr. Tulkinghorn." 

Sir Leicester's gallantry concedes the point ; though he 
still feels that to bring this sort of squalor among the upper 
classes is really really 

" I was about to say,"" resumes the lawyer, with undisturbed 
calmness, " that whether he had died by his own hand or not, 
it was beyond my power to tell you. I should amend that 
phrase, however, by saying that he had unquestionably died 
of his own act ; though whether by his own deliberate inten 
tion, or by mischance, can never certainly be known. The 
Coroner's jury found that he took the poison accidentally." 

" And what kind of man," my Lady asks, " was this de 
plorable creature ? " 

"Very difficult to say," returns the lawyer, shaking his 
head. "He had lived so wretchedly, and was so neglected, 
with his gipsy colour, and his wild black hair and beard, that 
I should have considered him the commonest of the common. 
The surgeon had a notion that he had once been something 
better, both in appearance and condition." 

"What did they call the wretched being?" 

"They called him what he had called himself, but no one 
knew his name." 

" Not even any one who had attended on him ? " 

" No one had attended on him, He was found dead. In 
fact, I found him." 

" Without any clue to anything more ? " 

" Without any ; there was," says the lawyer meditatively, 
" an old portmanteau ; but No, there were no papers." 

During the utterance of every word of this short dialogue, 
Lady Dedlock and Mr. Tulkinghorn, without any other 
alteration in their customary deportment, have looked very 



A COLLECTION OF HORRORS. 201 

steadily at one another as was natural, perhaps, in the dis 
cussion of so unusual a subject. Sir Leicester has looked at 
the fire, with the general expression of the Dedlock on the 
staircase. The story being told, he renews his stately protest, 
saying, that as it is quite clear that no association in my 
Lady's mind can possibly be traceable to this poor wretch 
(unless he was a begging-letter writer) ; he trusts to hear no 
more about a subject so far removed from my Lady's station. 
u Certainly, a collection of horrors," says my Lady, gather 
ing up her mantles and furs ; " but they interest one for the 
moment! Have the kindness, Mr. Tulkinghorn, to open the 
door for me. 1 ' 

Mr. Tulkinghorn does so with deference, and holds it open 
while she passes out. She passes close to him, with her 
usual fatigued manner, and insolent grace. They meet again 
at dinner again, next day again, for many days in succes 
sion. Lady Dedlock is always the same exhausted deity, 
surrounded by worshippers, and terribly liable to be bored 
to death, even while presiding at her own shrine. Mr. 
Tulkinghorn is always the same speechless repository of noble 
confidences : so oddly out of place, and yet so perfectly at 
home. They appear to take as little note of one another, as 
any two people, enclosed within the same walls, could. But, 
\ whether each evermore watches and suspects the other, ever- 
\ more mistrustful of some great reservation; whether each is 
evermore prepared at all points for the other, and never to 
be taken unawares ; what each would give to know how much 
the other knows all this is hidden, for the time, in their 
own hearts. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

ESTHER'S NARRATIVE. 

WE held many consultations about what Richard was to be ; 
first, without Mr. Jarndyce, as he had requested, and after 
wards with him ; but it was a long time before we seemed to 
make progress. Richard said he was ready for anything. 
When Mr. Jarndyce doubted whether he might not already 
be too old to enter the Navy, Richard said he had thought 
of that, and perhaps he was. When Mr. Jarndyce asked him 
what he thought of the Army, Richard said he had thought 
of that, too, and it wasn't a bad idea. When Mr. Jamdyce 
advised him to try and decide within himself, whether his old 
preference for the sea was an ordinary boyish inclination, or 
a strong impulse, Richard answered, Well, he really had tried 
very often, and he couldn't make out. 

" How much of this indecision of character," Mr. Jarndyce 
said to me, "is chargeable on that incomprehensible heap of 
uncertainty and procrastination on which he has been thrown 
from his birth, I don't pretend to say ; but that Chancery, 
among its other sins, is responsible for some of it, I can 
plainly see. It has engendered or confirmed in him a habit 
of putting off and trusting to this, that, and the other 
chance, without knowing what chance and dismissing every 
thing as unsettled, uncertain, and confused. The character 
of much older and steadier people may be even changed by 
the circumstances surrounding them. It would be too much 



WHAT IS RICHARD TO BE? 203 

to expect that a boy's, in its formation, should be the subject 
of such influences, and escape them/ 1 

I felt this to be true ; though, if I may venture to mention 
what I thought besides, I thought it much to be regretted 
that Richard's education had not counteracted those influences, 
or directed his character. He had been eight years at a 
public school, and had learnt, I understood, to make Latin 
Verses of several sorts, in the most admirable manner. But 
I never heard that it had been anybody's business to find out 
what his natural bent was, or where his failings lay, or to 
adapt any kind of knowledge to him. He had been adapted 
to the Verses, and had learnt the art of making them to such 
perfection, that if he had remained at school until he was of 
age, I suppose he could only have gone on making them over 
and over again, unless he had enlarged his education by for 
getting how to do it. Still, although I had no doubt that 
they were very beautiful, and very improving, and very suffi 
cient for a great many purposes of life, and always remembered 
all through life, I did doubt whether Richard would not have 
profited by some one studying him a little, instead of his 
studying them quite so much. 

To be sure, I knew nothing of the subject, and do not even 
now know whether the young gentlemen of classic Rome or 
Greece made verses to the same extent or whether the young 
gentlemen of any country ever did. 

"I haven't the least idea," said Richard, musing, "what I 
had better be. Except that I am quite sure I don't want to 
go into the Church, it's a toss-up." 

" You have no inclination in Mr. Kenge's way ? " suggested 
Mr. Jarndyce. 

" I don't know that, sir ! " replied Richard. " I am fond of 
boating. Articled clerks go a good deal on the water. It's 
a capital profession ! " 

"Surgeon " suggested Mr. Jarndyce. 

"That's the thing, sir!" cried Richard. 

I doubt if he had ever once thought of it before. 



204 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" That's the thing, sir ! " repeated Richard, with the greatest 
enthusiasm. " We have got it at last. M.R.C.S. ! " 

He was not to be laughed out of it, though he laughed 
at it heartily. He said he had chosen his profession, and the 
more he thought of it, the more he felt that his destiny was 
clear; the art of healing was the art of all others for him. 
Mistrusting that he only came to this conclusion, because, 
having never had much chance of finding out for himself what 
he was fitted for, and having never been guided to the dis 
covery, he was taken by the newest idea, and was glad to 
get rid of the trouble of consideration, I wondered whether 
the Latin Verses often ended in this, or whether Richard's 
was a solitary case. 

Mr. Jarndyce took great pains to talk with him, seriously, 
and to put it to his good sense not to deceive himself in so 
important a matter. Richard was a little grave after these 
interviews ; but invariably told Ada and me " that it was all 
right," and then began to talk about something else. 

" By Heaven ! " cried Mr. Boy thorn, who interested himself 
strongly in the subject though I need not say that, for he 
could do nothing weakly ; " I rejoice to find a young gentle 
man of spirit and gallantry devoting himself to that noble 
profession ! The more spirit there is in it, the better for 
mankind, and the worse for those mercenary task -masters and 
low tricksters who delight in putting that illustrious art at a 
disadvantage in the world. By all that is base and despicable," 
cried Mr. Boy thorn, " the treatment of Surgeons aboard ship 
is such, that I would submit the legs both legs of every 
member of the Admiralty Board to a compound fracture, and 
render it a transportable offence in any qualified practitioner 
to set them, if the system were not wholly changed in eight- 
and-forty hours ! " 

" Wouldn't you give them a week ? " asked Mr. Jarndyce. 

" No ! " cried Mr. Boythorn, firmly. " Not on any con 
sideration ! Eight-and-forty hours ! As to Corporations, 
Parishes, Vestry-Boards, and similar gatherings of jolter- 



RICHARD'S CHOICE OF A PROFESSION. 205 

headed clods, who assemble to exchange such speeches that, 
by Heaven ! they ought to be worked in quicksilver mines for 
the short remainder of their miserable existence, if it were 
only to prevent their detestable English from contaminating 
a language spoken in the presence of the Sun as to those 
fellows, who meanly take advantage of the ardour of gentle 
men in the pursuit of knowledge, to recompense the in 
estimable services of the best years of their lives, their long 
study, and their expensive education, with pittances too small 
for the acceptance of clerks, I would have the necks of every 
one of them wrung, and their skulls arranged in Surgeons' 
Hall for the contemplation of the whole profession in order 
that its younger members might understand from actual 
measurement, in early life, how thick skulls may become ! " 

He wound up this vehement declaration by looking round 
upon us with a most agreeable smile, and suddenly thunder 
ing, Ha, ha, ha! over and over again, until anybody else 
might have been expected to be quite subdued by the 
exertion. 

As Richard still continued to say that he was fixed in his 
choice, after repeated periods for consideration had been 
recommended by Mr. Jarndyce, and had expired ; and he 
still continued to assure Ada and me, in the same final manner, 
that it was "all right;" it became advisable to take Mr. 
Kenge into council. Mr. Kenge, therefore, came down to 
dinner one day, and leaned back in his chair, and turned his 
eye-glasses over and over, and spoke in a sonorous voice, and 
did exactly what I remembered to have seen him do when I 
was a little girl. 

"Ah!" said Mr. Kenge. "Yes. Well! A very good 
profession, Mr. Jarndyce ; a very good profession." 

"The course of study and preparation requires to be dili 
gently pursued," observed my Guardian, with a glance at 
Richard. 

" O, no doubt," said Mr. Kenge. " Diligently." 

" But that being the case, more or less, with all pursuits, 



206 BLEAK HOUSE. 

that are worth much," said Mr. Jarndyce, " it is not a special 
consideration which another choice would be likely to escape." 

"Truly," said Mr. Kenge. "And Mr. Richard Carstone, 
who has so meritoriously acquitted himself in the shall I 
say the classic shades? in which his youth had been passed, 
will, no doubt, apply the habits, if not the principles and 
practice, of versification in that tongue in which a poet was 
said (unless I mistake) to be born, not made, to the more 
eminently practical field of action on which he enters." 

"You may rely upon it," said Richard, in his off-hand 
manner, "that I shall go at it and do my best." 

"Very well, Mr. Jamdyce ! " said Mr. Kenge, gently 
nodding his head. "Really, when we are assured by Mr. 
Richard that he means to go at it, and to do his best," 
nodding feelingly and smoothly over those expressions ; " I 
would submit to you, that we have only to inquire into 
the best mode of carrying out the object of his ambition. 
Now, with reference to placing Mr. Richard with some 
sufficiently eminent practitioner. Is there any one in view 
at present?" 

" No one, Rick, I think ? " said my Guardian. 

"No one, sir," said Richard. 

" Quite so ! " observed Mr. Kenge. " As to situation, now, 
Is there any particular feeling on that head ? " 

"N no," said Richard. 

" Quite so ! " observed Mr. Kenge again. 

" I should like a little variety," said Richard ; " I mean 
a good range of experience." 

" Very requisite, no doubt," returned Mr. Kenge. " I think 
this may be easily arranged, Mr. Jarndyce ? We have only, 
in the first place, to discover a sufficiently eligible practi 
tioner; and, as soon as we make our want and, shall I add, 
our ability to pay a premium? known, our only difficulty 
will be in the selection of one from a large number. We 
have only, in the second place, to observe those little for 
malities which are rendered necessary by our time of life, and 



UNDER THE EYE OF MR. GUPPY. 207 

our being under the guardianship of the Court. We shall 
soon be shall I say, in Mr. Richard's own light-hearted 
manner, 'going at it 1 to our heart's content. It is a 
coincidence,"" said Mr. Kenge, with a tinge of melancholy in 
his smile, "one of those coincidences which may or may not 
require an explanation beyond our present limited faculties, 
that I have a cousin in the medical profession. He might 
be deemed eligible by you, and might be disposed to respond 
to this proposal. I can answer for him as little as for you ; 
but he might r 

As this was an opening in the prospect, it was arranged 
that Mr. Kenge should see his cousin. And as Mr. Jarndyce 
had before proposed to take us to London for a few weeks, 
it was settled next day that we should make our visit at 
once, and combine Richard's business with it. 

Mr. Boythorn leaving us within a week, we took up our 
abode at a cheerful lodging near Oxford Street, over an up 
holsterer's shop. London was a great wonder to us, and we 
were out for hours and hours at a time ; seeing the sights ; 
which appeared to be less capable of exhaustion than we 
were. We made the round of the principal theatres, too, 
with great delight, and saw all the plays that were worth 
seeing. I mention this, because it was at the theatre that 
I began to be made uncomfortable again, by Mr. Guppy. 

I was sitting in front of the box one night with Ada; 
and Richard was in the place he liked best, behind Ada's 
chair ; when, happening to look down into the pit, I saw Mr. 
Guppy, with his hair flattened down upon his head, and woe 
depicted in his face, looking up at me. I felt, all through 
the performance, that he never looked at the actors, but 
constantly looked at me, and always with a carefully pre 
pared expression of the deepest misery and the profoundest 
dejection. 

It quite spoiled my pleasure for that night, because it was 
so very embarrassing and so very ridiculous. But, from that 
time forth, we never went to the play without my seeing 



208 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Guppy in the pit, always with his hair straight and flat, 
his shirt-collar turned down, and a general feebleness about 
him. If he were not there when we went in, and I began 
to hope he would not come, and yielded myself for a little 
while to the interest of the scene, I was certain to encounter 
his languishing eyes when I least expected it, and, from that 
time, to be quite sure that they were fixed upon me all the 
evening. 

I really cannot express how uneasy this made me. If he 
would only have brushed up his hair, or turned up his collar, 
it would have been bad enough ; but to know that that 
absurd figure was always gazing at me, and always in that 
demonstrative state of despondency, put such a constraint 
upon me that I did not like to laugh at the play, or to cry 
at it, or to move or to speak. I seemed able to do nothing 
naturally. As to escaping Mr. Guppy by going to the back 
of the box, I could not bear to do that ; because I knew 
Richard and Ada relied on having me next them, and that 
they could never have talked together so happily if anybody 
else had been in my place. So there I sat, not knowing 
where to look for wherever I looked, I knew Mr. Guppy Y 
eyes were following me and thinking of the dreadful expense 
to which this young man was putting himself on my account. 

Sometimes I thought of telling Mr. Jarndyce. Then I 
feared that the young man would lose his situation, and 
that I might ruin him. Sometimes, I thought of confiding 
in Richard ; but was deterred by the possibility of his fight 
ing Mr. Guppy, and giving him black eyes. Sometimes, I 
thought, should I frown at him, or shake my head. Then 
I felt I could not do it. Sometimes, I considered whether I 
should write to his mother, but that ended in my being con 
vinced that to open a correspondence would be to make the 
matter worse. I always came to the conclusion, finally, that 
I could do nothing. Mr. Guppy's perseverance, all this time, 
not only produced him regularly at any theatre to which we 
went, but caused him to appear in the crowd as we were 



MR. BAYHAM BADGER. 209 

coming out, and even to get up behind our fly where I am 
sure I saw him, two or three times, struggling among the 
most dreadful spikes. After we got home, he haunted a post 
opposite our house. The upholsterer's where we lodged, 
being at the corner of two streets, and my bedroom window 
being opposite the post, I was afraid to go near the window 
when I went up-stairs, lest I should see him (as I did one 
moonlight night) leaning against the post, and evidently 
catching cold. If Mr. Guppy had not been, fortunately for 
me, engaged in the day-time, I really should have had no 
rest from him. 

While we were making this round of gaieties, in which Mr. 
Guppy so extraordinarily participated, the business which 
had helped to bring us to town was not neglected. Mr. 
Kenge's cousin was a Mr. Bayham Badger, who had a good 
practice at Chelsea, and attended a large public Institution 
besides. He was quite willing to receive Richard into his 
house, and to superintend his studies ; and as it seemed that 
those could be pursued advantageously under Mr. Badger's 
roof, and Mr. Badger liked Richard, and as Richard said he 
liked Mr. Badger "well enough," an agreement was made, 
the Lord Chancellor's consent was obtained, and it was all 
settled. 

On the day when matters were concluded between Richard 
and Mr. Badger, we were all under engagement to dine at 
Mr. Badger's house. We were to be " merely a family 
party," Mrs. Badger's note said ; and we found no lady there 
but Mrs. Badger herself. She was surrounded in the 
drawing-room by various objects, indicative of her painting 
a little, playing the piano a little, playing the guitar a little, 
playing the harp a little, singing a little, working a little, 
reading a little, writing poetry a little, and botanising a 
little. She was a lady of about fifty, I should think, youth 
fully dressed, and of a very fine complexion. If I add, to 
the little list of her accomplishments, that she rouged a little, 
I do not mean that there was any harm in it. 

VOL. i. p 



210 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Bayham Badger himself was a pink, fresh-faced, crisp- 
looking gentleman, with a weak voice, white teeth, light 
hair, and surprised eyes: some years younger, I should say, 
than Mrs. Bayham Badger. He admired her exceedingly, 
but principally, and to begin with, on the curious ground (as 
it seemed to us) of her having had three husbands. We had 
barely taken our seats, when he said to Mr. Jarndyce quite 
triumphantly, 

"You would hardly suppose that I am Mrs. Bayham 
Badger's third!" 

" Indeed ? " said Mr. Jarndyce. 

"Her third!" said Mr. Badger. "Mrs. Bayham Badger 
has not the appearance, Miss Summerson, of a lady who has 
had two former husbands ? " 

I said Not at all ! " 

" And most remarkable men ! " said Mr. Badger, in a tone 
of confidence. " Captain Swosser of the Royal Navy, who 
was Mi's. Badger's first husband, was a very distinguished 
officer indeed. The name of Professor Dingo my immediate 
predecessor, is one of European reputation." 

Mrs. Badger overheard him, and smiled. 

" Yes, my dear ! " Mr. Badger replied to the smile, " I 
was observing to Mr. Jarndyce and Miss Summerson, that 
you had had two former husbands both very distinguished 
men. And they found it, as people generally do, difficult to 
believe." 

" I was barely twenty," said Mrs. Badger, " when I married 
Captain Swosser of the Royal Navy. I was in the Mediter 
ranean with him ; I am quite a Sailor. On the twelfth 
anniversary of my wedding-day, I became the wife of Pro 
fessor Dingo." 

(" Of European reputation," added Mr. Badger in an 
under-tone.) 

" And when Mr. Badger and myself were married," pursued 
Mrs. Badger, " we were married on the same day of the year. 
I had become attached to the day." 



MRS. BAYHAM BADGER'S THREE. 

" So that Mrs. Badger has been married to three husbands 
two of them highly distinguished men," said Mr. Badger, 
summing up the facts ; " and, each time, upon the twenty- 
first of March at Eleven in the forenoon ! " 

We all expressed our admiration. 

"But for Mr. Badger's modesty," said Mr. Jarndyce, "I 
would take leave to correct him, and say three distinguished 
men." 

"Thank you, Mr. Jarndyce! What I always tell him!" 
observed Mrs. Badger. 

"And, my dear," said Mr. Badger, "what do 7 always tell 
you ? That without any affectation of disparaging such pro 
fessional distinction as I may have attained (which our friend 
Mr. Carstone will have many opportunities of estimating), I 
am not so weak no, really," said Mr. Badger to us generally, 
"so unreasonable as to put my reputation on the same 
footing with such first-rate men as Captain Swosser and Pro 
fessor Dingo. Perhaps you may be interested, Mr. Jarndyce," 
continued Mr. Bayham Badger, leading the way into the next 
drawing-room, "in this portrait of Captain Swosser. It was 
taken on his return home from the African Station, where 
he had suffered from the fever of the country. Mrs. Badger 
considers it too yellow. But it's a very fine head. A very 
fine head!" 

We all echoed " A very fine head ! " 

* I feel when I look at it," said Mr. Badger, " ' that's a 
man I should like to have seen ! ' It strikingly bespeaks the 
first-class man that Captain Swosser pre-eminently was. On 
the other side, Professor Dingo. I knew him well attended 
him in his last illness a speaking likeness ! Over the piano, 
Mrs. Bayham Badger when Mrs. Swosser. Over the sofa, 
Mrs. Bayham Badger when Mrs. Dingo. Of Mrs. Bayham 
Badger in esse, I possess the original, and have no copy." 

Dinner was now announced, and we went down-stairs. It 
was a very genteel entertainment, very handsomely served. 
But the Captain and the Professor still ran in Mr. Badger's 



HOUSti. 

head, and, as Ada and I had the honour of being under his 
particular care, we had the full benefit of them. 

" Water, Miss Summerson ? Allow me ! Not in that 
tumbler, pray. Bring me the Professors goblet, James ! " 

Ada very much admired some artificial flowers, under a glass. 

" Astonishing how they keep ! " said Mr. Badger. " They 
were presented to Mrs. Bayham Badger when she was in the 
Mediterranean." 

He invited Mr. Jarndyce to take a glass of claret. 

" Not that claret ! " he said. " Excuse me ! This is an 
occasion, and on an occasion I produce some very special 
claret I happen to have. (James, Captain Swosser's wine !) 
Mr. Jarndyce, this is a wine that was imported by the 
Captain, we will not say how many years ago. You will 
find it very curious. My dear, I shall be happy to take 
some of this wine with you. (Captain Swosser^s claret to 
your mistress, James !) My love, your health ! " 

After dinner, when we ladies retired, we took Mrs. Badgers 
first and second husband with us. Mrs. Badger gave us, in 
the drawing-room, a Biographical sketch of the life and 
services of Captain Swosser before his marriage, and a more 
minute account of him dating from the time when he fell in 
love with her, at a ball on board the Crippler, given to the 
officers of that ship when she lay in Plymouth Harbour. 

" The dear old Crippler ! " said Mrs. Badger, shaking her 
head. "She was a noble vessel. Trim, ship-shape, all a 
taunto, as Captain Swosser used to say. You must excuse 
me if I occasionally introduce a nautical expression ; I was 
quite a sailor once. Captain Swosser loved that craft for my 
sake. When she was no longer in commission, he frequently 
said that if he were rich enough to buy her old hulk, he 
would have an inscription let into the timbers of the quarter 
deck where we stood as partners in the dance, to mark the 
spot where he fell raked fore and aft (Captain Swosser used 
to say) by the fire from my tops. It was his naval way of 
mentioning my eyes." 



ADA'S GREAT SECRET. 

Mrs. Badger shook her head, sighed, and looked in the 
glass. 

" It was a great change from Captain Swosser to Professor 
Dingo," she resumed, with a plaintive smile. "I felt it a 
good deal at first. Such an entire revolution in my mode of 
life ! But custom, combined with science particularly science 
- inured me to it. Being the Professor's sole companion in 
his botanical excursions, I almost forgot that I had ever been 
afloat, and became quite learned. It is singular that the 
Professor was the Antipodes of Captain Swosser, and that Mr. 
Badger is not in the least like either ! " 

We then passed into a narrative of the deaths of Captain 
Swosser and Professor Dingo, both of whom seem to have 
had very bad complaints. In the course of it, Mrs. Badger 
signified to us that she had never madly loved but once ; and 
that the object of that wild affection, never to be recalled in 
its fresh enthusiasm, was Captain Swosser. The Professor 
was yet dying by inches in the most dismal manner, and Mrs. 
Badger was giving us imitations of his way of saying, with 
great difficulty, "Where is Laura? Let Laura give me my 
toast and water ! " when the entrance of the gentlemen con- 
signed him to the tomb. 

Now, I observed that evening, as I had observed for some 
days past, that Ada and Richard were more than ever attached 
to each other's society ; which was but natural, seeing that 
they were going to be separated so soon. I was therefore 
not very much surprised, when we got home, and Ada and I 
retired up-stairs, to find Ada more silent than usual ; though 
I was not quite prepared for her coming into my arms, and 
beginning to speak to me, with her face hidden. 

" My darling Esther ! " murmured Ada. " I have a great 
secret to tell you ! " 

A mighty secret, my pretty one, no doubt ! 

"What is it, Ada?" 

" O Esther, you would never guess ! " 

" Shall I try to guess ? w said I, 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

"O no! Don't! Pray don't! 11 cried Ada, very much 
startled by the idea of my doing so. 

" Now, I wonder who it can be about ? " said I, pretending 
to consider. 

" It's about," said Ada, in a whisper. " It's about my 
cousin Richard ! " 

" Well, my own ! " said I, kissing her bright hair, which 
was all I could see. " And what about him ? " 

" O Esther, you would never guess ! " 

It was so pretty to have her clinging to me in that way, 
hiding her face ; and to know that she was not crying in 
sorrow, but in a little glow of joy, and pride, and hope ; 
that I would not help her just yet. 

"He says I know it's very foolish, we are both so young 
but he says, 11 with a burst of tears, " that he loves me 
dearly, Esther. 11 

" Does he indeed ? " said I. " I never heard of such a 
thing ! Why, my pet of pets, I could have told you that 
weeks and weeks ago ! " 

To see Ada lift up her flushed face in joyful surprise, and 
hold me round the neck, and laugh, and cry, and blush, and 
laugh, was so pleasant ! 

" Why, my darling ! " said I, " what a goose you must take 
me for ! Your cousin Richard has been loving you as plainly 
as he could, for I don't know how long f " 

" And yet you never said a word about it ! " cried Ada, 
kissing me. 

" No, my love, 11 said I. " I waited to be told. 11 

"But now I have told you, you don't think it wrong 
of me ; do you ? " returned Ada. She might have coaxed me 
to say No, if I had been the hardest-hearted Duenna in the 
world. Not being that yet, I said No, very freely. 

" And now,' 1 said I, " I know the worst of it. 11 

" O, that's not quite the worst of it, Esther dear ! " cried 
Ada, holding me tighter, and laying down her face again 
upon my breast. 



A PAIR OF LOVERS. 215 

No ? " said I. " Not even that ? " 

" No, not even that ! " said Ada, shaking her head. 

" Why, you never mean to say ! " I was beginning in 
joke. 

But Ada, looking up, and smiling through her tears, cried, 
" Yes, I do ! You know, you know I do ! " and then sobbed 
out, " With all my heart I do ! With all my whole heart, 
Esther!" 

I told her, laughing, why I had known that, too, just as 
well as I had known the other ! And we sat before the fire, 
and I had all the talking to myself for a little while (though 
there was not much of it) ; and Ada was soon quiet and 
happy. 

" Do you think my cousin John knows, dear Dame 
Durden ? " she asked. 

"Unless my cousin John is blind, my pet," said I, "I 
should think my cousin John knows pretty well as much as 
we know." 

" We want to speak to him before Richard goes," said 
Ada, timidly, " and we wanted you to advise us, and to tell 
him so. Perhaps you wouldn't mind Richard's coming in, 
Dame Durden ? " 

" O ! Richard is outside, is he, my dear ? " said I. 

" I am not quite certain," returned Ada, with a bashful 
simplicity that would have won my heart, if she had not won 
it long before ; " but I think he's waiting at the door." 

There he was, of course. They brought a chair on eithei 
side of me, and put me between them, and really seemed to 
have fallen in love with me, instead of one another ; they were 
so confiding, and so trustful, and so fond of me. They went 
on in their own wild way for a little while / never stopped 
them; I enjoyed it too much myself and then we gradually 
fell to considering how young they were, and how there must 
be a lapse of several years before this early love could come to 
anything, and how it could come to happiness only if it were 
real and lasting, and inspired them with a steady resolution 



216 BLEAK HOUSE. 

to do their duty to each other, with constancy, fortitude, 
and perseverance : each always for the other's sake. Well ! 
Richard said that he would work his fingers to the bone for 
Ada, and Ada said that she would work her fingers to the 
bone for Richard, and they called me all sorts of endearing 
and sensible names, and we sat there, advising and talking, 
half the night. Finally, before we parted, I gave them my 
promise to speak to their cousin John to-morrow. 

So, when to-morrow came, I went to my Guardian after 
oreakfast, in the room that was our town-substitute for the 
Growlery, and told him that I had it in trust to tell him 
something. 

" Well, little woman," said he, shutting up his book, " if 
you have accepted the trust, there can be no harm in it."" 

" I hope not, Guardian," said I. " I can guarantee that 
there is no secrecy in it. For it only happened -yesterday." 

"Aye ? And what is it, Esther ?" 

" Guardian," said I, " you remember the happy night when 
first we came down to Bleak House? When Ada was sing 
ing in the dark room ? " 

I wished to call to his remembrance the look he had given 
me then. Unless I am much mistaken, I saw that I did so, 

" Because," said I, with a little hesitation. 

" Yes, my dear ! " said he. " Don't hurry." 

"Because," said I, "Ada and Richard have fallen in love. 
And have told each other so." 

" Already ! " cried my Guardian, quite astonished. 

" Yes ! " said I, " and to tell you the truth, Guardian, I 
rather expected it." 

" The deuce you did ! " said he. 

He sat considering for a minute or two ; with his smile, at 
once so handsome and so kind, upon his changing face ; and 
then requested me to let them know that he wished to see 
them. When they came, he encircled Ada with one arm, in 
his fatherly way, and addressed himself to Richard with a, 
cheerful gravity. 



MUTUAL CONFIDENCE. 217 

" Rick," said Mr. Jamclyce, " I am glad to have won your 
confidence. I hope to preserve it. When I contemplated 
these relations between us four which have so brightened my 
life, and so invested it with new interests and pleasures, I 
certainly did contemplate, afar off, the possibility of you and 
your pretty cousin here (don't be shy, Ada, don't be shy, my 
dear !) being in a mind to go through life together. I saw, 
and do see, many reasons to make it desirable. But that 
was afar off, Rick, afar off! " 

" We look afar off, sir," returned Richard. 

"Well!" said Mr. Jarndyce. "That's rational. Now, 
hear me, my dears ! I might tell you that you don't know 
your own minds yet ; that a thousand things may happen to 
divert you from one another ; that it is well this chain of 
flowers you have taken up is very easily broken, or it might 
become a chain of lead. But I will not do that. Such wisdom 
will come soon enough, I dare say, if it is to come at all. I 
will assume that, a few years hence, you will be in your hearts 
to one another, what you are to-day. All I say before speak 
ing to you according to that assumption is, if you do change 
if you do come to find that you are more commonplace 
cousins to each other as man and woman, than you were as 
boy and girl (your manhood will excuse me, Rick !) don't 
be ashamed still to confide in me, for there will be nothing 
monstrous or uncommon in it. I am only your friend and 
distant kinsman. I have no power over you whatever. But 
I wish and hope to retain your confidence, if I do nothing to 
forfeit it." 

" I am very sure, sir," returned Richard, " that I speak 
for Ada, too, when I say that you have the strongest power 
over us both rooted in respect, gratitude, and affection 
strengthening every day.' 1 

" Dear cousin John," said Ada, on his shoulder, " my father's 
place can never be empty again. All the love and duty I 
could ever have rendered to him, is transferred to you." 

" Come ! " said Mr. Jarndyce. " Now for our assumption, 



218 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Now we lift our eyes up, and look hopefully at the distance ! 
Rick, the world is before you ; and it is most probable that 
as you enter it, so it will receive you. Trust in nothing 
but in Providence and your own efforts. Never separate the 
two, like the heathen waggoner. Constancy in love is a 
good thing; but it means nothing, and is nothing, without 
constancy in every kind of effort. If you had the abilities 
of all the great men, past and present, you could do nothing 
well, without sincerely meaning it, and setting about it. If 
you entertain the supposition that any real success, in great 
things or in small, ever was or could be, ever will or can be, 
wrested from Fortune by fits and starts, leave that wrong 
idea here, or leave your cousin Ada here." 

"I will leave it here, sir, 11 replied Richard, smiling, "if I 
brought it here just now (but I hope I did not), and will 
work my way on to my cousin Ada in the hopeful distance." 

" Right ! " said Mr. Jarndyce. " If you are not to make 
her happy, why should you pursue her ? " 

" I wouldn't make her unhappy no, not even for her love," 
retorted Richard, proudly. 

" Well said ! " cried Mr. Jarndyce ; " that's well said ! She 
remains here, in her home with me. Love her, Rick, in your 
active life, no less than in her home when you revisit it, and 
all will go well. Otherwise, all will go ill. That's the end 
of my preaching. I think you and Ada had better take a 
walk." 

Ada tenderly embraced him, and Richard heartily shook 
hands with him, and then the cousins went out of the room 
looking back again directly, though, to say that they 
would wait for me. 

The door stood open, and we both followed them with our 
eyes, as they passed down the adjoining room on which the 
sun was shining, and out at its farther end. Richard with 
his head bent, and her hand drawn through his arm, was 
talking to her very earnestly ; and she looked up in his face, 
listening, and seemed to see nothing else. So young, so 



SOME ONE ELSE. 219 

beautiful, so full of hope and promise, they went on lightly 
through the sunlight, as their own happy thoughts might 
then be traversing the years to come, and making them all 
years of brightness. So they passed away into the shadow, 
and were gone. It was only a burst of light that had been 
so radiant. The room darkened as they went out, and the 
sun was clouded over. 

" Am I right, Esther ? " said my Guardian, when they 
were gone. 

He who was so good and wise, to ask me whether he was 
right ! 

" Rick may gain, out of this, the quality he wants. Wants, 
at the core of so much that is good ! " said Mr. Jarndyce, 
shaking his head. " I have said nothing to Ada, Esther. 
She has her friend and counsellor always near." And he laid 
his hand lovingly upon my head. 

I could not help showing that I was a little moved, though 
I did all I could to conceal it. 

" Tut, tut ! " said he. " But we must take care, too, that 
our little woman's life is not all consumed in care for others." 

" Care ? My dear Guardian, I believe I am the happiest 
creature in the world ! " 

" I believe so, too," said he. " But some one may find out, 
what Esther never will, that the little woman is to be held 
in remembrance above all other people ! " 

I have omitted to mention in its place, that there was some 
one else at the family dinner party. It was not a lady. It 
was a gentleman. It was a gentleman of a dark complexion 
a young surgeon. He was rather reserved, but I thought 
him very sensible and agreeable. At least, Ada asked me if 
I did not, and I said yes. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

DEPORTMENT. 

RICHARD left us on the very next evening, to begin his new 
career, and committed Ada to my charge with great love for 
her, and great trust in me. It touched me then to reflect, 
and it touches me now, more nearly, to remember (having 
what I have to tell) how they both thought of me, even at 
that engrossing time. I was a part of all their plans, for the 
present and the future. I was to write to Richard once a week, 
making my faithful report of Ada, who was to write to him 
every alternate day. I was to be informed, under his own 
hand, of all his labours and successes ; I was to observe how 
resolute and persevering he would be ; I was to be Ada's 
bridesmaid when they were married ; I was to live with them 
afterwards ; I was to keep all the keys of their house ; I was 
to be made happy for ever and a day. 

"And if the suit should make us rich, Esther which it 
may, you know ! " said Richard, to crown all. 

A shade crossed Ada's face. 

" My dearest Ada,' 1 asked Richard, " why not ? " 

" It had better declare us poor at once," said Ada. 

" O ! I don't know about that," returned Richard ; " but, 
at all events, it won't declare anything at once. It hasn't 
declared anything in Heaven knows how many years." 

" Too true," said Ada. 

" Yes, but," urged Richard, answering what her look 



RICHARD STARTS ON HIS NEW CAREER. 

suggested rather than her words, " the longer it goes on, dear 
cousin, the nearer it must be to a settlement one way or 
other. Now, is not that reasonable?" 

" You know best, Richard. But I am afraid if we trust to 
it, it will make us unhappy." 

" But, my Ada, we are not going to trust to it ! " cried 
Richard. " We know it better than to trust to it. We only 
say that if it should make us rich, we have no constitutional 
objection to being rich. The Court is, by solemn settlement 
of law, our grim old guardian, and we are to suppose that 
what it gives us (when it gives us anything) is our right. It 
is not necessary to quarrel with our right." 

"No," said Ada, "but it may be better to forget all 
about it." 

"Well, well!" cried Richard, "then we will forget all 
about it ! We consign the whole thing to oblivion. Dame 
Burden puts on her approving face, and it's done ! " 

"Dame Durden's approving face," said I, looking out of 
the box in which I was packing his books, " was not very 
visible when you called it by that name ; but it does approve, 
and she thinks you can^t do better." 

So, Richard said there was an end of it, and immediately 
began, on no other foundation, to build as many castles in 
the air as would man the great wall of China. He went 
away in high spirits. Ada and I, prepared to miss him very 
much, commenced our quieter career. 

On our arrival in London, we had called with Mr. Jarndyce 
at Mrs. Jellyby's, but had not been so fortunate as to find 
her at home. It appeared that she had gone somewhere, 
to a tea-drinking, and had taken Miss Jellyby with her. 
Besides the tea-drinking, there was to be some considerable 
speech-making and letter-writing on the general merits of 
the cultivation of coffee, conjointly with natives, at the 
Settlement of Borrioboola-Gha. All this involved, no doubt, 
sufficient active exercise of pen and ink, to make her daughter's 
part in the proceedings anything but a holiday. 



222' BLEAK HOUSE. 

It being, now, beyond the time appointed for Mrs. Jellyby's 
return, we called again. She was in town, but not at home, 
having gone to Mile End, directly after breakfast, on some 
Borrioboolan business, arising out of a Society called the 
East London Branch Aid Ramification. As I had not seen 
Peepy on the occasion of our last call (when he was not to 
be found anywhere, and when the cook rather thought he 
must have strolled away with the dustman's cart), I now in 
quired for him again. The oyster-shells he had been building 
a house with, were still in the passage, but he was nowhere 
discoverable, and the cook supposed that he had "gone after 
the sheep." When we repeated, with some surprise, "The 
sheep?" she said, O yes, on market days he sometimes 
followed them quite out of town, and came back in such a 
state as never was ! 

I was sitting at the window with my guardian, on the 
following morning, and Ada was busy writing of course to 
Richard when Miss Jellyby was announced, and entered, 
leading the identical Peepy, whom she had made some 
endeavours to render presentable, by wiping the dirt into 
comers of his face and hands, and making his h?dr very wet 
and then violently frizzling it with her fingers. Everything 
the dear child wore, was either too large for him or too small. 
Among his other contradictory decorations he had the hat of 
a Bishop, and the little gloves of a baby. His boots were, 
on a small scale, the boots of a ploughman : while his legs, so 
crossed and recrossed with scratches that they looked like maps, 
were bare, below a very short pair of plaid drawers finished off 
with two frills of perfectly different patterns. The deficient 
buttons on his plaid frock had evidently been supplied from 
one of Mr. Jellyby 's coats, they were so extremely brazen and 
so much too large. Most extraordinary specimens of needle 
work appeared on several parts of his dress, where it had 
been hastily mended; and I recognised the same hand on 
Miss Jellyby's. She was, however, unaccountably improved 
in her appearance, and looked very pretty. She was conscious 



MISS JELLYBY AND PEEPY. 

of poor little Peepy being but a failure after all her trouble, 
and she showed it as she came in, by the way in which she 
glanced, first at him and then at us. 

" O dear me ! " said my guardian. " Due East ! " 

Ada and I gave her a cordial welcome, and presented her 
to Mr. Jarndyce ; to whom she said, as she sat down : 

44 Ma's compliments, and she hopes you'll excuse her, 
because she's correcting proofs of the plan. She's going to 
put out five thousand new circulars, and she knows you'll be 
interested to hear that. I have brought one of them with 
me. Ma's compliments." With which she presented it 
sulkily enough. 

"Thank you," said my guardian. " I am much obliged to 
Mrs. Jelly by. O dear me ! This is a very trying wind ! " 

We were busy with Peepy ; taking off his clerical hat ; 
asking him if he remembered us ; and so on. Peepy retired 
behind his elbow at first, but relented at the sight of sponge 
cake, and allowed me to take him on my lap, where he sat 
munching quietly. Mr. Jarndyce then withdrawing into the 
temporary Growlery, Miss Jellyby opened a conversation with 
her usual abruptness. 

"We are going on just as bad as ever in Thavies Inn," 
said she. "I have no peace of my life. Talk of Africa! 
I couldn't be worse off if I was a what's-his-name man and 
a brother!" 

I tried to say something soothing. 

"O, it's of no use, Miss Summerson," exclaimed Miss 
Jellyby, "though I thank you for the kind intention all the 
same. I know how I am used, and I am not to be talked 
over. You wouldn't be talked over, if you were used so. 
Peepy, go and play at Wild Beasts under the piano ! " 

"I sha'n't!" said Peepy. 

" Very well, you ungrateful, naughty, hard-hearted boy ! " 
returned Miss Jellyby, with tears in her eyes. "I'll never 
take pains to dress you any more." 

" Yes, I will go, Caddy ! " cried Peepy, who was really a 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

good child, and who was so moved by his sisters vexation 
that he went at once. 

"It seems a little thing to cry about," said poor Miss 
Jellyby, apologetically, "but I am quite worn out. I was 
directing the new circulars till two this morning. I detest 
the whole thing so, that that alone makes my head ache till I 
can't see out of my eyes. And look at that poor unfortunate 
child ! Was there ever such a fright as he is ! " 

Peepy, happily unconscious of the defects in his appear 
ance, sat on the carpet behind one of the legs of the 
piano, looking calmly out of his den at us, while he ate 
his cake. 

" I have sent him to the other end of the room," observed 
Miss Jellyby, drawing her chair nearer ours, " because I don't 
want him to hear the conversation. Those little things are 
so sharp ! I was going to say, we really are going on worse 
than ever. Pa will be a bankrupt before long, and then I 
hope Ma will be satisfied. There'll be nobody but Ma to 
thank for it." 

We said we hoped Mr. Jellyby's affairs were not in so bad 
a state as that. 

"It's of no use hoping, though it's very kind of you," 
returned Miss Jellyby, shaking her head. " Pa told me, only 
vesterday morning (and dreadfully unhappy he is), that he 
couldn't weather the storm. I should be surprised if he could. 
When all our tradesmen send into our house any stuff they 
like, and the servants do what they like with it, and I have 
no time to improve things if I knew how, and Ma don't care 
about anything, I should like to make out how Pa is to 
weather the storm. I declare if I was Pa, I'd run away." 

"My dear!" said I, smiling. "Your papa, no doubt, 
considers his family." 

"O yes, his family is all very fine, Miss Summerson," 
replied Miss Jellyby ; " but what comfort is his family to him ? 
His family is nothing but bills, dirt, waste, noise, tumbles 
down-stairs, confusion, and wretchedness. His scrambling 



MISS JELLYBY IS ENGAGED. 

home, from week's-end to week Vend, is like one great washing- 
day only nothing's washed ! " 

Miss Jellyby tapped her foot upon the floor, and wiped 
her eyes. 

"I am sure I pity Pa to that degree," she said, "and am 
so angry with Ma, that I can't find words to express myself ! 
However, I am not going to bear it, I am determined. I 
won't be a slave all my life, and I won't submit to be pro 
posed to by Mr. Quale. A pretty thing, indeed, to marry 
a Philanthropist. As if I hadn't had enough of that ! " said 
poor Miss Jellyby. 

I must confess that I could not help feeling rather angry 
with Mrs. Jellyby, myself; seeing and hearing this neglected 
girl, and knowing how much of bitterly satirical truth there 
was in what she said. 

" If it wasn't that we had been intimate when you stopped 
at our house," pursued Miss Jellyby, " I should have been 
ashamed to come here to-day, for I know what a figure I 
must seem to you two. But, as it is, I made up my mind 
to call : especially as I am not likely to see you again, the 
next time you come to town." 

She said this with such great significance that Ada and I 
glanced at one another, foreseeing something more. 

" No ! " said Miss Jellyby, shaking her head. " Not at all 
likely ! I know I may trust you two. I am sure you won't 
betray me. I am engaged." 

" Without their knowledge at home ? " said I. 

" Why, good gracious me, Miss Summerson," she returned, 
justifying herself in a fretful but not angry manner, "how 
can it be otherwise? You know what Ma is and I needn't 
make poor Pa more miserable by telling him" 

" But would it not be adding to his unhappiness, to marry 
without his knowledge or consent, my dear?" said I. 

" No," said Miss Jellyby, softening. " I hope not. I should 
try to make him happy and comfortable when he came to 
see me ; and Peepy and the others should take it in turns to 

VOL. i. Q, 



226 BLEAK HOUSE. 

come and stay with me; and they should have some care 
taken of them, then." 

There was a good deal of affection in poor Caddy. She 
softened more and more while saying this, and cried so much 
over the unwonted little home-picture she had raised in her 
mind, that Peepy, in his cave under the piano, was touched, 
and turned himself over on his back with loud lamentations. 
It was not until I had brought him to kiss his sister, and had 
restored him to his place on my lap, and had shown him that 
Caddy was laughing (she laughed expressly for the purpose), 
that we could recall his peace of mind ; even then, it was for 
some time conditional on his taking us in turns by the chin, 
and smoothing our faces all over with his hand. At last, as 
his spirits were not equal to the piano, we put him on a 
chair to look out of window ; and Miss Jellyby, holding him 
by one leg, resumed her confidence. 

" It began in your coming to our house," she said. 

We naturally asked how ? 

" I felt I was so awkward," she replied, " that I made up 
my mind to be improved in that respect, at all events, and 
to learn to dance. I told Ma I was ashamed of myself, and 
I must be taught to dance. Ma looked at me in that pro 
voking way of hers as if I wasn't in sight; but, I was quite 
determined to be taught to dance, and so I went to Mr. 
Turveydrop's Academy in Newman Street." 

" And was it there, my dear " I began. 

" Yes, it was there," said Caddy, " and I am engaged to 
Mr. Turveydrop. There are two Mr. Turveydrops, father 
and son. My Mr. Turveydrop is the son, of course. I only 
wish I had been better brought up, and was likely to make 
him a better wife ; for I am very fond of him." 

"I am sorry to hear this," said I, "I must confess." 

"I don't know why you should be sorry," she retorted a 
little anxiously, "but I am engaged to Mr. Turveydrop, 
whether or no, and he is very fond of me. It's a secret as 
yet, even on his side, because old Mr. Turveydrop has a share 



TWO MR. TURVEYDROPS. 827 

in the connexion, and it might break his heart, or give him 
some other shock, if he was told of it abruptly. Old Mr. 
Turveydrop is a very gentlemanly man indeed very gentle 
manly." 

" Does his wife know of it ? " asked Ada. 

"Old Mr. Turveydrop's wife, Miss Clare? 1 ' returned Miss 
Jellyby, opening her eyes. "There's no such person. He 
is a widower. 1 ' 

We were here interrupted by Peepy, whose leg had under 
gone so much on account of his sister's unconsciously jerking 
it like a bell-rope whenever she was emphatic, that the 
afflicted child now bemoaned his sufferings with a very low- 
spirited noise. As he appealed to me for compassion, and 
as I was only a listener, I undertook to hold him. Miss 
Jellyby proceeded, after begging Peepy's pardon with a kiss, 
and assuring him that she hadn't meant to do it. 

" That's the state of the case," said Caddy. " If I ever 
blame myself, I still think it's Ma's fault. We are to be 
married whenever we can, and then I shall go to Pa at the 
office and write to Ma. It won't much agitate Ma ; I am 
only pen and ink to her. One great comfort is," said Caddy, 
with a sob, "that I shall never hear of Africa after I am 
married. Young Mr. Turveydrop hates it for my sake ; and 
if old Mr. Turveydrop knows there is such a place, it's as 
much as he does." 

" It was he who was very gentlemanly, I think ! " said I. 

"Very gentlemanly, indeed," said Caddy. "He is cele 
brated, almost everywhere, for his Deportment." 

" Does he teach ? " asked Ada. 

"No, he don't teach anything in particular," replied 
Caddy. " But his Deportment is beautiful." 

Caddy went on to say, with considerable hesitation and 
reluctance, that there was one thing more she wished us 
to know, and felt we ought to know, and which she hoped 
would not offend us. It was, that she had improved her 
acquaintance with Miss Flite, the little crazy old lady; and 



228 BLEAK HOUSE. 

that she frequently went there early in the morning, and met 
her lover for a few minutes before breakfast only for a few 
minutes. " / go there, at other times,"" said Caddy, " but 
Prince does not come then. Young Mr. Turveydrop's name 
is Prince ; I wish it wasn't, because it sounds like a dog, but of 
course he didn't christen himself. Old Mr. Turveydrop had 
him christened Prince, in remembrance of the Prince Regent. 
Old Mr. Turveydrop adored the Prince Regent on account 
of his Deportment. I hope you won't think the worse of me 
for having made these little appointments at Miss Elite's, 
where I first went with you ; because I like the poor thing 
for her own sake, and I believe she likes me. If you could 
see young Mr. Turveydrop, I am sure you would think well 
of him at least, I am sure you couldn't possibly think any 
ill of him. I am going there now, for my lesson. I couldn't 
ask you to go with me, Miss Summerson ; but if you would," 
said Caddy, who had said all this, earnestly and tremblingly, 
" I should be very glad very glad." 

It happened that we had arranged with my guardian to go 
to Miss Elite's that day. We had told him of our former 
visit, and our account had interested him ; but something 
had always happened to prevent our going there again. As 
I trusted that I might have sufficient influence with Miss 
Jellyby to prevent her taking any very rash step, if I fully 
accepted the confidence she was so willing to place in me, 
poor girl, I proposed that she and I and Peepy should go 
to the Academy, and afterwards meet my guardian and Ada 
at Miss Elite's whose name I now learnt for the first time. 
This was on condition that Miss Jellyby and Peepy should 
come back with us to dinner. The last article of the agree 
ment being joyfully acceded to by both, we smartened Peepy 
up a little, with the assistance of a few pins, some soap and 
water, and a hair-brush ; and went out : bending our steps 
towards Newman Street, which was very near. 

I found the Academy established in a sufficiently dingy 
house at the corner of an archway, with busts in all the 



MR. TURVEYDROFS ACADEMY. 229 

staircase windows. In the same house there were also 
established, as I gathered from the plates on the door, a 
drawing-master, a coal-merchant (there was, certainly, no 
room for his coals), and a lithographic artist. On the plate 
which, in size and, situation, took precedence of all the rest, 
I read, Mr. TUHVF.YDROP. The door was open, and the hall 
was blocked up by a grand piano, a harp, and several other 
musical instruments in cases, all in progress of removal, and 
all looking rakish in the daylight. Miss Jellyby informed 
me that the Academy had been lent, last night, for a concert. 

We went up-stairs it had been quite a' fine house once, 
when it was anybody's business to keep it clean and fresh, 
and nobody's business to smoke in it all day and into Mr. 
Turveydrop's great room, which was built out into a mews 
at the back, and was lighted by a skylight. It was a bare, 
resounding room, smelling of stables ; with cane forms along 
the walls ; and the walls ornamented at regular intervals with 
painted lyres, and little cut-glass branches for candles, which 
seemed to be shedding their old-fashioned drops as other 
branches might shed autumn leaves. Several young lady 
pupils, ranging from thirteen or fourteen years of age to two 
or three and twenty, were assembled ; and I was looking among 
them for their instructor, when Caddy, pinching my arm, 
repeated the ceremony of introduction. " Miss Summerson, 
Mr. Prince Turveydrop ! " 

I curtseyed to a little blue-eyed fair man of youthful 
appearance, with flaxen hair parted in the middle, and curl 
ing at the ends all round his head. He had a little fiddle, 
which we used to call at school a kit, under his left arm, and 
its little bow in the same hand. His little dancing-shoes 
were particularly diminutive, and he had a little innocent, 
feminine manner, which not only appealed to me in an 
amiable way, but made this singular effect upon me : that I 
received the impression that he was like his mother, and that 
his mother had not been much considered or well used. 

" I am very happy to see Miss Jellyby's friend/' he said, 



230 BLEAK HOUSE. 

bowing low to me. " I began to fear," with timid tenderness, 
"as it was past the usual time, that Miss Jellyby was not 
coming."" 

" I beg you will have the goodness to attribute that to me, 
who have detained her, and to receive my excuses, sir,"" said I. 

" O dear I " said he. 

" And pray," I entreated, " do not allow me to be the cause 
of any more delay." 

With that apology I withdrew to a seat between Peepy 
(who, being well used to it, had already climbed into a corner 
place) and an old lady of a censorious countenance, whose 
two nieces were in the class, and who was very indignant 
with Peepy's boots. Prince Turveydrop then tinkled the 
strings of his kit with his fingers, and the young ladies stood 
up to dance. Just then, there appeared from a side door, 
old Mr. Turveydrop, in the full lustre of his Deportment. 

He was a fat old gentleman with a false complexion, false 
teeth, false whiskers, and a wig. He had a fur collar, and he 
had a padded breast to his coat, which only wanted a star or 
a broad blue ribbon to be complete. He was pinched in, and 
swelled out, and got up, and strapped down, as much as he 
could possibly bear. He had such a neckcloth on (puffing his 
very eyes out of their natural shape), and his chin and even 
his ears so sunk into it, that it seemed as though he must 
inevitably double up, if it were cast loose. He had, under 
his arm, a hat of great size and weight, shelving downward 
from the crown to the brim ; and in his hand a pair of white 
gloves, with which he flapped it, as he stood poised on one 
leg, in a high-shouldered, round-elbowed state of elegance not 
to be surpassed. He had a cane, he had an eye-glass, he had 
a snuff-box, he had rings, he had wristbands, he had every 
thing but any touch of nature ; he was not like youth, he was 
not like age, he was not like anything in the world but a 
model of Deportment. 

" Father ! A visitor. Miss Jellyby's friend, Miss Summer- 



A MODEL OF DEPORTMENT. 



251 



" Distinguished," said Mr. Turveydrop, " by Miss Summer- 
son's presence." As he bowed to me in that tight state, I 
almost believe I saw creases come into the whites of his eyes, 

"My father," said the son, aside, to me, with quite an 
affecting belief in him, " is a celebrated character. My father 
is greatly admired." 

" Go on, Prince ! Go on ! " said Mr. Turveydrop, standing 
with his back to the fire, and waving his gloves condescend 
ingly. " Go on, my son ! " 

At this command, or by this gracious permission, the lesson 
went on. Prince Turveydrop sometimes played the kit, 
dancing ; sometimes played the piano, standing ; sometimes 
hummed the tune with what little breath he could spare, 
while he set a pupil right ; always conscientiously moved with 
the least proficient through every step and every part of the 
figure ; and never rested for an instant. His distinguished 
father did nothing whatever, but stand before the fire, a 
model of Deportment. 

"And he never does anything else," said the old lady of 
the censorious countenance. " Yet would you believe that it's 
his name on the door-plate ? " 

" His son's name is the same, you know," said I. 

" He wouldn't let his son have any name, if he could take 
it from him," returned the old lady. "Look at the son's 
dress ! " It certainly was plain threadbare almost shabby. 
" Yet the father must be garnished ar$ tricked out," said 
the old lady, " because of his Deportment. I'd deport him ! 
Transport him would be better ! " 

I felt curious to know more, concerning this person. I 
asked, " Does he give lessons in Deportment, now ? " 

" Now ! " returned the old lady, shortly. " Never did." 
After a moment's consideration, I suggested that perhaps 
fencing had been his accomplishment? 

" I don't believe he can fence at all, ma'am," said the old 
lady. 

I looked surprised and inquisitive. The old lady, becoming 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

more and more incensed against the Master of Deportment as 
she dwelt upon the subject, gave me some particulars of his 
career, with strong assurances that they were mildly stated. 

He had married a meek little dancing-mistress, with a 
tolerable connexion (having never in his life before done 
anything but deport himself), and had worked her to death, 
or had, at the best, suffered her to work herself to death, to 
maintain him in those expenses which were indispensable to 
his position. At once to exhibit his Deportment to the best 
models, and to keep the best models constantly before himself, 
he had found it necessary to frequent all public places of 
fashionable and lounging resort; to be seen at Brighton and 
elsewhere at fashionable times ; and to lead an idle life in the 
very best clothes. To enable him to do this, the affectionate 
little dancing-mistress had toiled and laboured, and would 
have toiled and laboured to that hour, if her strength had 
lasted so long. For, the mainspring of the story was, that, 
in spite of the man's absorbing selfishness, his wife (over 
powered by his Deportment) had, to the last, believed in him, 
and had, on her death-bed, in the most moving terms, confided 
him to their son as one who had an inextinguishable claim 
upon him, and whom he could never regard with too much 
pride and deference. The son, inheriting his mother's belief, 
and having the Deportment always before him, had lived and 
grown in the same faith, and now, at thirty years of age, 
worked for his father twelve hours a-day, and looked up to 
him with veneration on the old imaginary pinnacle. 

"The airs the fellow gives himself!"" said my informant, 
shaking her head at old Mr. Turveydrop with speechless in 
dignation as he drew on his tight gloves : of course unconscious 
of the homage she was rendering. " He fully believes he is 
one of the aristocracy ! And he is so condescending to the 
son he so egregiously deludes, that you might suppose him 
the most virtuous of parents. O ! " said the old lady, apostro 
phising him with infinite vehemence, " I could bite you ! " 

J could not help being amused, though I heard the old 



A DEGENERATE RACE. 233 

lady out with feelings of real concern. It was difficult to 
doubt her, with the father and son before me. What I 
might have thought of them without the old lady's account, 
or what I might have thought of the old lady's account with 
out them, I cannot say. There was a fitness of things in the 
whole that carried conviction with it. 

My eyes were yet wandering, from young Mr. Turveydrop 
working so hard, to old Mr. Turveydrop deporting himself 
so beautifully, when the latter came ambling up to me, and 
entered into conversation. 

He asked me, first of all, whether I conferred a charm 
and a distinction on London by residing in it? I did not 
think it necessary to reply that I was perfectly aware I 
should not do that, in any case, but merely told him where 
I did reside. 

"A lady so graceful and accomplished," he said, kissing 
his right glove, and afterwards extending it towards the 
pupils, " will look leniently on the deficiencies here. We do 
our best to polish polish polish ! " 

He sat down beside me ; taking some pains to sit on the 
form, I thought, in imitation of the print of his illustrious 
model on the sofa. And really he did look very like it. 

" To polish polish polish ! " he repeated, taking a pinch 
of snuff and gently fluttering his fingers. " But we are not 
if I may say so, to one formed to be graceful both by Nature 
and Art;" with the high-shouldered bow, which it seemed 
impossible for him to make without lifting up his eyebrows 
and shutting his eyes " we are not what we used to be in 
point of Deportment." 

"Are we not, sir?" said I. 

"We have degenerated," he returned, shaking his head, 
which he could do, to a very limited extent, in his cravat. 
" A levelling age is not favourable to Deportment. It de 
velops vulgarity. Perhaps I speak with some little partiality. 
It may not be for me to say that I have been called, for 
some years now, Gentleman Turveydrop ; or that His Royal 



234 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Highness the Prince Regent did me the honour to inquire, 
on my removing my hat as he drove out of the Pavilion at 
Brighton (that fine building), Who is he ? Who the Devil 
is he ? Why don't I know him ? Why hasn't he thirty 
thousand a-year?' But these are little matters of anecdote 
the general property, ma'am, still repeated, occasionally, 
among the upper classes." 

"Indeed?" said I. 

He replied with the high-shouldered bow. " Where what 
is left among us of Deportment," he added, "still lingers. 
England alas, my country ! has degenerated very much, and 
is degenerating every day. She has not many gentlemen left. 
We are few. I see nothing to succeed us, but a race of 
weavers." 

"One might hope that the race of gentlemen would be 
perpetuated here," said I. 

"You are very good," he smiled, with the high-shouldered 
bow again. " You flatter me. But, no no ! I have never 
been able to imbue my poor boy with that part of his art. 
Heaven forbid that I should disparage my dear child, but he 
has no Deportment." 

" He appears to be an excellent master," I observed. 

"Understand me, my dear madam, he is an excellent 
master. All that can be acquired, he has acquired. All that 
can be imparted, he can impart. But there are things" he 
took another pinch of snuff and made the bow again, as if 
to add, " this kind of thing, for instance." 

I glanced towards the centre of the room, where Miss 
Jellyby's lover, now engaged with single pupils, was under 
going greater drudgery than ever. 

" My amiable child," murmured Mr. Turveydrop, adjusting 
his cravat. 

" Your son is indefatigable," said I. 

" It is my reward," said Mr. Turveydrop, " to hear you say 
so. In some respects, he treads in the footsteps of his sainted 
mother. She was a devoted creature. But Wooman, lovely 



A FATHER'S BLESSING. 235 

Wooman," said Mr. Turveydrop, with very disagreeable 
gallantry, " what a sex you are ! " 

I rose and joined Miss Jelly by, who was, by this time, 
putting on her bonnet. The time allotted to a lesson having 
fully elapsed, there was a general putting on of bonnets. 
When Miss Jellyby and the unfortunate Prince found an oppor 
tunity to become betrothed I don't know, but they certainly 
found none, on this occasion, to exchange a dozen words. 

"My dear," said Mr. Turveydrop benignly to his son, 
"do you know the hour?" 

"No, father." The son had no watch. The father had a 
handsome gold one, which he pulled out, with an air that was 
an example to mankind. 

"My son," said he, "it's two o'clock. Recollect your 
school at Kensington at three." 

" That's time enough for me, father," said Prince. " I can 
take a morsel of dinner, standing, and be off." 

"My dear boy," returned his father, "you must be very 
quick. You will find the cold mutton on the table." 

" Thank you, father. Are you off now, father ? " 

" Yes, my dear. I suppose," said Mr. Turveydrop, shutting 
his eyes and lifting up his shoulders, with modest conscious 
ness, "that I must show myself, as usual, about town." 

"You had better dine out comfortably, somewhere," said 
his son. 

"My dear child, I intend to. I shall take my little meal, 
I think, at the French house, in the Opera Colonnade." 

" That's right. Good-bye, father ! " said Prince, shaking 
hands. 

" Good-bye, my son. Bless you ! " 

Mr. Turveydrop said this in quite a pious manner, and it 
seemed to do his son good ; who, in parting from him, was 
so pleased with him, so dutiful to him, and so proud of him, 
that I almost felt as if it were an unkindness to the younger 
man not to be able to believe implicitly in the elder. The 
few moments that were occupied by Prince in taking leave of 



236 BLEAK HOUSE. 

us (and particularly of one of us, as I saw, being in the 
secret), enhanced my favourable impression of his almost 
childish character. I felt a liking for him, and a compassion 
for him, as he put his little kit in his pocket and with 
it his desire to stay a little while with Caddy and went 
away good-humouredly to his cold mutton and his school at 
Kensington, that made me scarcely less irate with his father 
than the censorious old lady. 

The father opened the room-door for us, and bowed us 
out, in a manner, I must acknowledge, worthy of his shining 
original. In the same style he presently passed us on the 
other side of the street, on his way to the aristocratic part of 
the town, where he was going to show himself among the few 
other gentlemen left. For some moments, I was so lost in 
reconsidering what I had heard and seen in Newman Street, 
that I was quite unable to talk to Caddy, or even to fix my 
attention on what she said to me : especially when I began 
to inquire in my mind whether there were, or ever had been, 
any other gentlemen, not in the dancing profession, who 
lived and founded a reputation entirely on their Deportment. 
This became so bewildering, and suggested the possibility, of 
so many Mr. Turveydrops, that I said, "Esther, you must 
make up your mind to abandon this subject altogether, and 
attend to Caddy." I accordingly did so, and we chatted all 
the rest of the way to Lincoln's Inn. 

Caddy told me that her lover's education had been so neg 
lected, that it was not always easy to read his notes. She 
said, if he were not so anxious about his spelling, and took 
less pains to make it clear, he would do better; but he put 
so many unnecessary letters into short words, that they some 
times quite lost their English appearance. " He does it with 
the best intention," observed Caddy, " but it hasn't the effect 
he means, poor fellow ! " Caddy then went on to reason, how 
could he be expected to be a scholar, when he had passed his 
whole life in the dancing-school, and had done nothing but 
teach and fag, fag and teach, morning, noon, and night! 



CADDY BECOMES MORE CONFIDENTIAL. 237 

And what did it matter ? She could write letters enough for 
both, as she knew to her cost, and it was far better for him 
to be amiable than learned. " Besides, it's not as if I was an 
accomplished girl, who had any right to give herself airs," 
said Caddy. " I know little enough, I am sure, thanks to Ma ! " 

"There's another thing I want to tell you, now we are 
alone," continued Caddy, " which I should not have liked to 
mention unless you had seen Prince, Miss Summerson. You 
know what a house ours is. It's of no use my trying to learn 
anything that it would be useful for Prince's wife to know, 
in our house. We live in such a state of muddle that it's 
impossible, and I have only been more disheartened whenever 
I have tried. So, I get a little practice with who do you 
think ? Poor Miss Flite ! Early in the morning, I help her 
to tidy her room, and clean her birds; and I make her cup 
of coffee for her (of course she taught me), and I have learnt 
to make it so well that Prince says it's the very best coffee 
he ever tasted, and would quite delight old Mr. Turveydrop, 
who is very particular indeed about his coffee. I can make 
little puddings too ; and I know how to buy neck of mutton, 
and tea, and sugar, and butter, and a good many house 
keeping things. I am not clever at my needle, yet," said 
Caddy, glancing at the repairs on Peepy's frock, " but perhaps 
I shall improve, and since I have been engaged to Prince, 
and have been doing all this, I have felt better-tempered, I 
hope, and more forgiving to Ma. It rather put me out, at 
first this morning, to see you and Miss Clare looking so neat 
and pretty, and to feel ashamed of Peepy and myself too; 
but, on the whole, I hope I am better- tempered than I was, 
and more forgiving to Ma." 

The poor girl, trying so hard, said it from her heart, and 
touched mine. " Caddy, my love," I replied, " I begin to 
have a great affection for you, and I hope we shall become 
friends." " Oh, do you ? " cried Caddy ; " how happy that 
would make me ! " " My dear Caddy," said I, " let us be 
friends from this time, and let us often have a chat about 



238 BLEAK HOUSE. 

these matters, and try to find the right way through them."" 
Caddy was overjoyed. I said everything I could, in my old- 
fashioned way, to comfort and encourage her; and I would 
not have objected to old Mr. Turveydrop, that day, for any 
smaller consideration than a settlement on his daughter-in-law. 

By this time, we were come to Mr. Krook's, whose private 
door stood open. There was a bill, pasted on the door-post, 
announcing a room to let on the second floor. It reminded 
Caddy to tell me as we proceeded up-stairs, that there had 
been a sudden death there, and an inquest; and that our 
little friend had been ill of the fright. The door and window 
of the vacant room being open, we looked in. It was the 
room with the dark door, to which Miss Flite had secretly 
directed my attention when I was last in the house. A sad 
and desolate place it was; a gloomy, sorrowful place, that 
gave me a strange sensation of mournfulness and even dread. 
" You look pale," said Caddy, when we came out, " and cold ! " 
I felt as if the room had chilled me. 

We had walked slowly, while we were talking; and my 
guardian and Ada were here before us. We found them in 
Miss Flite^s garret. They were looking at the birds, while a 
medical gentleman who was so good as to attend Miss Flite 
with much solicitude and compassion, spoke with her cheer 
fully by the fire. 

"I have finished my professional visit," he said, coming 
forward. "Miss Flite is much better, and may appear in 
Court (as her mind is set upon it) to-morrow. She has been 
greatly missed there, I understand." 

Miss Flite received the compliment with complacency, and 
dropped a general curtsey to us. 

"Honoured, indeed," said she, "by another visit from the 
wards in Jarndyce ! Ve-ry happy to receive Jarndyce of 
Bleak House beneath my humble roof!" with a special 
curtsey. " Fitz- Jarndyce, my dear;" she had bestowed that 
name on Caddy, it appeared, and always called her by it ; 
" a double welcome ! " 



MISS FLITE AND HER DOCTOR. 239 

" Has she been very ill ? " asked Mr. Jarndyce of the gentle 
man whom we had found in attendance on her. She answered 
for herself directly, though he had put the question in a 
whisper. 

" O decidedly unwell ! O very unwell indeed," she said, con 
fidentially. " Not pain, you know trouble. Not bodily so 
much as nervous, nervous ! The truth is," in a subdued voice 
and trembling, "we have had death here. There was poison 
in the house. I am very susceptible to such horrid things. 
It frightened me. Only Mr. Woodcourt knows how much. 
My physician, Mr. Woodcourt ! " with great stateliness. 
"The wards in Jarndyce Jamdyce of Bleak House Fitz- 
Jarndyce ! " 

" Miss Elite," said Mr. Woodcourt, in a grave kind of voice, 
as if he were appealing to her while speaking to us ; and 
laying his hand gently on her arm ; " Miss Elite describes her 
illness witn her usual accuracy. She was alarmed by an 
occurrence in the house which might have alarmed a stronger, 
person, and was made ill by the distress and agitation. She 
brought me here, in the first hurry of the discovery, though 
too late for me to be of any use to the unfortunate man. 
I have compensated myself for that disappointment by coming 
here since, and being of some small use to her." 

"The kindest physician in the college," whispered Miss 
Elite to me. " I expect a Judgment. On the day of 
Judgment. And shall then confer estates." 

" She will be as well, in a day or two," said Mr. Woodcourt, 
looking at her with an observant smile, " as she ever will be. 
In other words, quite well of course. Have you heard of her 
good fortune?" 

" Most extraordinary ! " said Miss Elite, smiling brightly. 
"You never heard of such a thing, my dear! Every 
Saturday, Conversation Kenge, or Guppy (clerk to Conversa 
tion K.), places in my hand a paper of shillings. Shillings. 
I assure you ! Always the same number in the paper. 
Al \vays one for every day in the week. Now you know, 



240 BLEAK HOUSE. 

really ! So well-timed, is it not ? Ye-es ! From whence do 
these papers come, you say? That is the great question. 
Naturally. Shall I tell you what / think ? / think," said 
Miss Flite, drawing herself back with a very shrewd look, and 
shaking her right forefinger in a most significant manner, 
"that the Lord Chancellor, aware of the length of time 
during which -the Great Seal has been open, (for it has been 
open a long time !) forwards them. Until the Judgment I 
expect, is given. Now that's very creditable, you know. To 
confess in that way that he is a little slow for human life. 
So delicate ! Attending Court the other day I attend it 
regularly with my documents I taxed him with it, and he 
almost confessed. That is, I smiled at him from my bench, 
and he smiled at me from his bench. But it's great good 
fortune, is it not? And Fitz-Jarndyce lays the money out 
for me to great advantage. O, I assure you to the greatest 
advantage ! " 

I congratulated her (as she addressed herself to me) upon 
this fortunate addition to her income, and wished her a long 
continuance of it. I did not speculate upon the source from 
which it came, or wonder whose humanity was so considerate. 
My guardian stood before me, contemplating the birds, and 
I had no need to look beyond him. 

"And what do you call these little fellows, ma'am?" said 
he in his pleasant voice. " Have they any names ? " 

"I can answer for Miss Flite that they have,"" said I, 
" for she promised to tell us what they were. Ada re 
members ? " 

Ada remembered very well. 

"Did I?" said Miss Flite "Who's that at my door? 
What are you listening at my door for, Krook ? " 

The old man of the house, pushing it open before him, 
appeared there with his fur-cap in his hand, and his cat at 
his heels. 

"I warn't listening, Miss Flite," he said. "I was going 
to give a rap with my knuckles, only you're so quick ! " 



THE NOBLE AND LEARNED BROTHER. 

" Make your cat go down. Drive her away ! " the old lady 
angrily exclaimed. 

" Bah, bah ! There ain't no danger, gentlefolks," said 
Mr. Krook, looking slowly and sharply from one to another, 
until he had looked at all of us; "she'd never offer at the 
birds when I was here, unless I told her to it." 

"You will excuse my landlord," said the old lady with a 
dignified air. " M, quite M ! What do you want, Krook, 
when I have company ? " 

" Hi ! " said the old man. " You know I am the Chan 
cellor." 

" Well ? " returned Miss Flite. " What of that ? " 

"For the Chancellor," said the old man, with a chuckle, 
" not to be acquainted with a Jarndyce is queer, ain't it, 
Miss Flite ? Mightn't I take the liberty ? Your servant, 
sir. I know Jarndyce and Jarndyce a'most as well as you 
do, sir. I knowed old Squire Tom, sir. I never to my 
knowledge see you afore though, not even in Court. Yet, 
I go there a mortal sight of times in the course of the 
year, taking one day with another." 

" I never go there," said Mr. Jarndyce (which he never 
did on any consideration). " I would sooner go somewhere 
else." 

" Would you though ? " returned Krook, grinning. " You're 
bearing hard upon my noble and learned brother in your 
meaning, sir ; though, perhaps, it is but nat'ral in a 
Jarndyce. The burnt child, sir ! What, you're looking at 
my lodger's birds, Mr. Jarndyce ? " The old man had come 
by little and little into the room, until he now touched 
my guardian with his elbow, and looked close up into his 
face with his spectacled eyes. " It's one of her strange 
ways, that she'll never tell the names of these birds if she 
can help it, though she named 'em all." This was in a 
whisper. " Shall I run 'em over, Flite ? " he asked aloud, 
winking at us and pointing at her as she turned away, 
affecting to sweep the grate. 

VOL. I. 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

" If you like," she answered hurriedly. 

The old man, looking up at the cages, after another look 
at us, went through the list. 

" Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, 
Waste, Want, Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, 
Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, 
Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach. That's the whole col lection," 
said the old man, "all cooped up together, by my noble 
and learned brother." 

" This is a bitter wind ! " muttered my guardian. 

" When my noble and learned brother gives his Judgment, 
they're to be let go free," said Krook, winking at us again. 
" And then," he added, whispering and grinning, " if that 
ever was to happen which it won't the birds that have 
never been caged would kill 'em." 

" If ever the wind was in the east," said my guardian, 
pretending to look out of the window for a weathercock, " I 
think it's there to-day ! " 

We found it very difficult to get away from the house. It 
was not Miss Flite who detained us; she was as reasonable 
a little creature in consulting the convenience of others, as 
there possibly could be. It was Mr. Krook. He seemed 
unable to detach himself from Mr. Jarndyce. If he had 
been linked to him, he could hardly have attended him more 
closely. He proposed to show us his Court of Chancery, and 
all the strange medley it contained ; during the whole of 
our inspection (prolonged by himself) he kept close to Mr. 
Jarndyce, and sometimes detained him, under one pretence or 
other, until we had passed on, as if he were tormented by an 
inclination to enter upon some secret subject, which he could 
not make up his mind to approach. I cannot imagine a 
countenance and manner more singularly expressive of caution 
and indecision, and a perpetual impulse to do something he 
could not resolve to venture on, than Mr. Krook's was, that 
day. His watchfulness of my guardian was incessant. He 
rarely removed his eyes from his face. If he went on beside 



LEARNING TO READ AND WRITE. 

him, he observed him with the slyness of an old white fox. 
If he went before, he looked back. When we stood still, 
he got opposite to him, and drawing his hand across and 
across his open mouth with a curious expression of a sense 
of power, and turning up his eyes, and lowering his grey eye 
brows until they appeared to be shut, seemed to scan every 
lineament of his face. 

At last, having been (always attended by the cat) all 
over the house, and having seen the whole stock of 
miscellaneous lumber, which was certainly curious, we came 
into the back part of the shop. Here, on the head of 
an empty barrel stood on end, were an ink-bottle, some old 
stumps of pens, and some dirty playbills ; and, against the 
wall, were pasted several large printed alphabets in several 
plain hands. 

" What are you doing here ? " asked my guardian. 

" Trying to learn myself to read and write," said Krook. 

"And how do you get on? 1 ' 

"Slow. Bad," returned the old man, impatiently. "It's 
hard at my time of life." 

"It would be easier to be taught by some one," said my 
guardian. 

"Aye, but they might teach me wrong!" returned the 
old man, with a wonderfully suspicious flash of his eye. " I 
don't know what I may have lost, by not being learnd afore. 
I wouldn't like to lose anything by being learnd wrong 
now." 

" Wrong ? " said my guardian, with his good-humoured 
smile. " Who do you suppose would teach you wrong ? " 

" I don't know, Mr. Jarndyce of Bleak House ! " replied 
the old man, turning up his spectacles on his forehead, and 
rubbing his hands. " I don't suppose as anybody would but 
I'd rather trust my own self than another ! " 

These answers, and his manner, were strange enough to 
cause my guardian to inquire of Mr. Woodcourt, as we all 
walked across Lincoln's Inn together, whether Mr. Krook 



244 BLEAK HOUSE. 

were really, as his lodger represented him, deranged? The 
young surgeon replied, no, he had seen no reason to think 
so. He was exceedingly distrustful, as ignorance usually 
was, and he was always more or less under the influence of 
raw gin : of which he drank great quantities, and of which 
he and his back-shop, as we might have observed, smelt 
strongly ; but he did not think him mad, as yet. 

On our way home, I so conciliated Peepy's affections by 
buying him a windmill and two flour-sacks, that he would 
suffer nobody else to take off his hat and gloves, and would 
sit nowhere at dinner but at my side. Caddy sat upon the 
other side of me, next to Ada, to whom we imparted the 
whole history of the engagement as soon as we got back. 
We made much of Caddy, and Peepy too ; and Caddy 
brightened exceedingly ; and my guardian was as merry as 
we were ; and we were all very happy indeed ; until Caddy 
went home at night in a hackney-coach, with Peepy fast 
asleep, but holding tight to the windmill. 

I have forgotten to mention at least I have not mentioned 
that Mr. Woodcourt was the same dark young surgeon 
whom we had met at Mr. Badger's. Or, that Mr. Jarndyce 
invited him to dinner that day. Or, that he came. Or, 
that when they were all gone, and I said to Ada, "Now, 
my darling, let us have a little talk about Richard!" Ada 
laughed and said 

But, I don't think it matters what my darling said. She 
was always merry. 






CHAPTER XV. 

BELL YARD. 

WHILE we were in London, Mr. Jarndyce was constantly 
beset by the crowd of excitable ladies and gentlemen whose 
proceedings had so much astonished us. Mr. Quale, who pre 
sented himself soon after our arrival, was in all such excite 
ments. He seemed to project those two shining knobs of 
temples of his into everything that went on, and to brush 
his hair farther and farther back, until the very roots were 
almost ready to fly out of his head in inappeasable philan 
thropy. All objects were alike to him, but he was always 
particularly ready for anything in the way of a testimonial 
to any one. His great power seemed to be his power of 
indiscriminate admiration. He would sit, for any length of 
time, with the utmost enjoyment, bathing his temples in the 
light of any order of luminary. Having first seen him 
perfectly swallowed up in admiration of Mrs. Jellyby, I had 
supposed her to be the absorbing object of his devotion. I 
soon discovered my mistake, and found him to be train-bearer 
and organ-blower to a whole procession of people. 

Mrs. Pardiggle came one day for a subscription to some 
thing and with her, Mr. Quale. Whatever Mrs. Pardiggle 
said, Mr. Quale repeated to us; and just as he had drawn 
Mrs. Jellyby out, he drew Mrs. Pardiggle out. Mrs. Par 
diggle wrote a letter of introduction to my guardian, in 
behalf of her eloquent friend, Mr. Gusher. With Mr. 



246 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Gusher, appeared Mr. Quale again. Mr. Gusher, being a 
flabby gentleman with a moist surface, and eyes so much too 
small for his moon of a face that they seemed to have been 
originally made for somebody else, was not at first sight 
prepossessing; yet, he was scarcely seated, before Mr. Quale 
asked Ada and me, not inaudibly, whether he was not a 
great creature which he certainly was, flabbily speaking ; 
though Mr. Quale meant in intellectual beauty and whether 
we were not struck by his massive configuration of brow ? In 
short, we heard of a great many Missions of various sorts, 
among this set of people ; but, nothing respecting them was 
half so clear to us, as that it was Mr. Quale's mission to be 
in ecstasies with everybody else's mission, and that it was the 
most popular mission of all. 

Mr. Jarndyce had fallen into this company, in the tender 
ness of his heart and his earnest desire to do all the good in 
his power ; but, that he felt it to be too often an unsatis 
factory company, where benevolence took spasmodic forms; 
where charity was assumed, as a regular uniform, by loud 
professors and speculators in cheap notoriety, vehement in 
profession, restless and vain in action, servile in the last 
degree of meanness to the great, adulatory of one another, 
and intolerable to those who were anxious quietly to help 
the weak from falling, rather than with a great deal of 
bluster and self-laudation to raise them up a little way when 
they were down; he plainly told us. When a testimonial 
was originated to Mr. Quale, by Mr. Gusher (who had already 
got one, originated by Mr. Quale), and when Mr. Gusher 
spoke for an hour and a half on the subject to a meeting, 
including two charity schools of small boys and girls, who 
were specially reminded of the widow's mite, and requested 
to come forward with halfpence and be acceptable sacrifices; 
I think the wind was in the east for three whole weeks. 

I mention this, because I am coming to Mr. Skimpole 
again. It seemed to me, that his off-hand professions of 
childishness and carelessness were a great relief to my guardian, 



MR. SKIMPOLE AGAIN. 247 

by contrast with such things, and were the more readily 
believed in; since, to find one perfectly undesigning and 
candid man, among many opposites, could not fail to give 
him pleasure. I should be sorry to imply that Mr. Skimpole 
divined this, and was politic : I really never understood him 
well enough to know. What he was to my guardian, he 
certainly was to the rest of the world. 

He had not been very well ; and thus, though he lived in 
London, we had seen nothing of him until now. He appeared 
one morning, in his usual agreeable way, and as full of 
pleasant spirits as ever. 

Well, he said, here he was ! He had been bilious, but rich 
men were often bilious, and therefore he had been persuading 
himself that he was a man of property. So he was, in a 
certain point of view in his expansive intentions. He had 
been enriching his medical attendant in the most lavish 
manner. He had always doubled, and sometimes quadrupled, 
his fees. He had said to the doctor, " Now, my dear doctor, 
it is quite a delusion on your part to suppose that you attend 
me for nothing. I am overwhelming you with money in 
my expansive intentions if you only knew it ! " And really 
(he said) he meant it to that degree, that he thought it 
much the same as doing it. If he had had those bits of 
metal or thin paper, to which mankind attached so much 
importance, to put in the doctor's hand, he would have put 
them in the doctor's hand. Not having them, he substituted 
the will for the deed. Very well ! If he really meant it if 
his will were genuine and real : which it was it appeared to 
him that it was the same as coin, and cancelled the obligation. 

" It may be, partly, because I know nothing of the value of 
money, " said Mr. Skimpole, " but I often feel this. It seems 
so reasonable ! My butcher says to me, he wants that little 
bill. It's a part of the pleasant unconscious poetry of the 
man's nature, that he always calls it a 'little' bill to make 
the payment appear easy to both of us. I reply to the 
butcher, My good friend, if you knew it you are paid. You 



248 BLEAK HOUSE. 

haven't had the trouble of coming to ask for the little bill. 
You are paid. I mean it." 

" But, suppose," said my guardian, laughing, " he had 
meant the meat in the bill, instead of providing it ? " 

" My dear Jarndyce," he returned, " you surprise me. You 
take the butchers position. A butcher I once dealt with, 
occupied that very ground. Says he, 'Sir, why did you eat 
spring lamb at eighteen-pence a pound ? ' * Why did I eat 
spring lamb at eighteen-pence a pound, my honest friend ? ' 
said I, naturally amazed by the question. * I like spring 
lamb ! ' This was so far convincing. ' Well, sir,' says he, ' I 
wish I had meant the lamb as you mean the money ! ' ' My 
good fellow,' said I, ' pray let us reason like intellectual beings. 
How could that be ? It was impossible. You had got the 
lamb, and I have not got the money. You couldn't really 
mean the lamb without sending it in, whereas I can, and do, 
really mean the money without paying it ! ' He had not a 
word. There was an end of the subject." 

" Did he take no legal proceedings ? " inquired my guardian. 

"Yes, he took legal proceedings," said Mr. Skimpole. 
" But, in that, he was influenced by passion ; not by reason. 
Passion reminds me of Boythorn. He writes me that you 
and the ladies have promised him a short visit at his bachelor- 
house in Lincolnshire." 

" He is a great favourite with my girls," said Mr. Jarndyce, 
"and I have promised for them." 

" Nature forgot to shade him off, I think ? " observed Mr. 
Skimpole to Ada and me. " A little too boisterous like 
the sea? A little too vehement like a bull, who has made 
up his mind to consider every colour scarlet? But, I grant 
a sledge-hammering sort of merit in him ! " 

I should have been surprised if those ttvo could have 
thought very highly of one another ; Mr. Boythorn attaching 
so much importance to many things, and Mr. Skimpole 
caring so little for anything. Besides which, I had noticed 
Mr. Boythorn more than once on the point of breaking out 



AS TO BOYTHORN AND THE COAVINSES. 249 

into some strong opinion, when Mr. Skimpole was referred 
to. Of course I merely ioined Ada in saying that we had 
been greatly pleased with him. 

" He has invited me," said Mr. Skimpole ; " and if a child 
may trust himself in such hands : which the present child is 
encouraged to do, with the united tenderness of two angels 
to guard him : I shall go. He proposes to frank me down 
and back again. I suppose it will cost money? Shillings 
perhaps ? Or pounds ? Or something of that sort ? By-the- 
bye. Coavinses. You remember our friend Coavinses, Miss 
Summerson ? " 

He asked me, as the subject arose in his mind, in his 
graceful light-hearted manner, and without the least em- 
i barrassment. 

O yes!" said I. 

"Coavinses has been arrested by the great Bailiff," said 
Mr. Skimpole. "He will never do violence to the sunshine 
any more." 

It quite shocked me to hear it ; for, I had already recalled, 
with anything but a serious association, the image of the man 
sitting on the sofa that night, wiping his head. 

"His successor informed me of it yesterday," said Mr. 
Skimpole. " His successor is in my house now in possession, 

JI think he calls it. He came yesterday, on my blue-eyed 
daughter's birthday. I put it to him, 'This is unreasonable 
and inconvenient. If you had a blue-eyed daughter you 
wouldn't like me to come, uninvited, on her birthday ? ' But, 
he stayed." 

Mr. Skimpole laughed at the pleasant absurdity, and lightly 
touched the piano by which he was seated. 

" And he told me," he said, playing little chords where I 
shall put full stops, "That Coavinses had left. Three chil 
dren. No mother. And that Coavinses'' profession. Being 
unpopular. The rising Coavinses. Were at a considerable 
disadvantage." 

Mr. Jarndyce got up, rubbing his head, and began to walk 



250 BLEAK HOUSE. 

about. Mr. Skimpole played the melody of one of Ada's 
favourite songs. Ada and I both looked at Mr. Jarndyce, 
thinking that we knew what was passing in his mind. 

After walking and stopping, and several times leaving off 
rubbing his head, and beginning again, my guardian put his 
hand upon the keys and stopped Mr. Skimpole's playing. 
" I don't like this, Skimpole,' 1 he said thoughtfully. 

Mr. Skimpole, who had quite forgotten the subject, looked 
up surprised. 

"The man was necessary," pursued my guardian, walking 
backward and forward in the very short space between the 
piano and the end of the room, and rubbing his hair up 
from the back of his head as if a high east wind had blown 
it into that form. " If we make such men necessary by our 
faults and follies, or by our want of worldly knowledge, or by 
our misfortunes, we must not revenge ourselves upon them. 
There was no harm in his trade. He maintained his children. 
One would like to know more about this. 11 

" O ! Coavinses ? " cried Mr. Skimpole, at length perceiving 
what he meant. "Nothing easier. A walk to Coavinses' 
head-quarters, and you can know what you will." 

Mr. Jarndyce nodded to us, who were only waiting for the 
signal. " Come ! * We will walk that way, my dears. Why 
not that way, as soon as another ! " We were quickly ready, 
and went out. Mr. Skimpole went with us, and quite enjoyed 
the expedition. It was so new and so refreshing, he said, for 
him to want Coavinses, instead of Coavinses wanting him ! 

He took us, first, to Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane, where 
there was a house with barred windows, which he called 
Coavinses' Castle. On our going into the entry and ringing 
a bell, a very hideous boy came out of a sort of office, and 
looked at us over a spiked wicket. 

"Who did you want?" said the boy, fitting two of the 
spikes into his chin. 

"There was a follower, or an officer, or something, here," 
said Mr. Jarndyce, " who is dead." 



NECKETTS CHILDREN. 251 

" Yes ? " said the boy. " Well ? " 

" I want to know his name, if you please ? " 

" Name of Neckett," said the boy. 

" And his address ? " 

"Bell Yard," said the boy. "Chandler's shop, left hand 
side, name of Blinder." 

" Was he I don't know how to shape the question," mur 
mured my guardian " industrious ? " 

" Was Neckett ? " said the boy. " Yes, wery much so. He 
was never tired of watching. He'd set upon a post at a 
street corner, eight or ten hours at a stretch, if he undertook 
to do it." 

"He might have done worse," I heard my guardian solilo 
quize. " He might have undertaken to do it, and not done 
it. Thank you. That's all I want." 

We left the boy, with his head on one side, and his arms 
on the gate, fondling and sucking the spikes ; and went back 
to Lincoln's Inn, where Mr. Skimpole, who had not cared to 
remain nearer Coavinses, awaited us. Then, we all went to 
Bell Yard : a narrow alley, at a very short distance. We soon 
found the chandler's shop. In it, was a good-natured-looking 
old woman, with a dropsy, or an asthma, or perhaps both. 

" Neckett's children ? " said she, in reply to my inquiry. 
" Yes, surely, miss. Three pair, if you please. Door right 
opposite the stairs." And she handed me the key across the 
counter. 

I glanced at the key, and glanced at her ; but she took it 
for granted that I knew what to do with it. As it could 
only be intended for the children's door, I came out, without 
asking any more questions, and led the way up the dark 
stairs. We went as quietly as we could ; but, four of us made 
some noise on the aged boards; and, when we came to the 
second story, we found we had disturbed a man who was 
standing there, looking out of his room. 

" Is it Gridley that's wanted ? " he said, fixing his eyes on 
me with an angry stare. 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

" No, sir,'" 1 said I, " I am going higher up." 

He looked at Ada, and at Mr. Jarndyce, and at Mr. 
Skimpole : fixing the same angry stare on each in succession, 
as they passed and followed me. Mr. Jarndyce gave him 
good day. " Good day ! " he said, abruptly and fiercely. He 
was a tall sallow man, with a careworn head, on which but 
little hair remained, a deeply lined face, and prominent eyes. 
He had a combative look ; and a chafing, irritable manner, 
which, associated with his figure still large and powerful, 
though evidently in its decline rather alarmed me. He 
had a pen in his hand, and, in the glimpse I caught of his 
room in passing, I saw that it was covered with a litter 
of papers. 

Leaving him standing there, we went up to the top room. 
I tapped at the door, and a little shrill voice inside said, 
u We are locked in. Mrs. Bliiider's got the key ! " 

I applied the key on hearing this, and opened the door. 
In a poor room, with a sloping ceiling, and containing very 
little furniture, was a mite of a boy, some five or six years 
old, nursing and hushing a heavy child of eighteen months. 
There was no fire, though the weather was cold ; both children 
were wrapped in some poor shawls and tippets, as a substitute. 
Their clothing was not so warm, however, but that their noses 
looked red and pinched, and their small figures shrunken, as 
the boy walked up and down, nursing and hushing the child 
with its head on his shoulder. 

" Who has locked you up here alone ? " we naturally 
asked. 

" Charley, 11 said the boy, standing still to gaze at us. 

" Is Charley your brother ? " 

"No. She's my sister, Charlotte. Father called her 
Charley." 

" Are there any more of you besides Charley ? " 

" Me," said the boy, " and Emma," patting the limp bonnet 
of the child he was nursing. " And Charley." 

" Where is Charley now ? " 



LITTLE CHARLF.Y. 253 

" Out a-washing," said the boy, beginning to walk up and 
down again, and taking the nankeen bonnet much too near 
the bedstead, by trying to gaze at us at the same time. 

We were looking at one another, and at these two children, 
when there came into the room a very little girl, childish in 
figure but shrewd and older-looking in the face pretty-faced 
too wearing a womanly sort of bonnet much too large for 
her, and drying her bare arms on a womanly sort of apron. 
Her fingers were white and wrinkled with washing, and the 
soap-suds were yet smoking which she wiped oft' her arms. 
But for this, she might have been a child, playing at washing, 
and imitating a poor working-woman with a quick observa 
tion of the truth. 

She had come running from some place in the neighbour 
hood, and had made all the haste she could. Consequently, 
though she was very light, she was out of breath, and could 
not speak at first, as she stood panting, and wiping her arms, 
and looking quietly at us. 

" O, here's Charley ! " said the boy. 

The child he was nursing, stretched forth its arms, and 
cried out to be taken by Charley. The little girl took it, in 
a womanly sort of manner belonging to the apron and the 
bonnet, and stood looking at us over the burden that clung 
to her most affectionately. 

" Is it possible," whispered my guardian, as we put a chair 
for the little creature, and got her to sit down with her load : 
the boy keeping close to her, holding to her apron, "that 
this child works for the rest ? Look at this ! For God's 
sake look at this ! " 

It was a thing to look at. The three children close 
together, and two of them relying solely on the third, and 
the third so young and yet with an air of age and steadiness 
that sat so strangely on the childish figure. 

" Charley, Charley ! " said my guardian. " How old are 
you ? " 

"Over thirteen, sir," replied the child. 



254 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" O ! What a great age ! " said my guardian. " What a 
great age, Charley ! " 

I cannot describe the tenderness with which he spoke to 
her; half playfully, yet all the more compassionately and 
mournfully. 

" And do you live alone here with these babies, Charley ? " 
said my guardian. 

" Yes, sir," returned the child, looking up into his face 
with perfect confidence, "since father died." 

" And how do you live, Charley ? O ! Charley," said my 
guardian, turning his face away for a moment, " how do you 
live?" 

" Since father died, sir, I've gone out to work. Fm out 
washing to-day." 

" God help you, Charley ! " said my guardian. " You're 
not tall enough to reach the tub ! " 

"In pattens I am, sir," she said quickly. "IVe got a 
high pair as belonged to mother." 

" And when did mother die ? Poor mother ! " 

" Mother died, just after Emma was born," said the child, 
glancing at the face upon her bosom. " Then father said I 
was to be as good a mother to her as I could. And so I 
tried. And so I worked at home, and did cleaning and 
nursing and washing, for a long time before I began to go 
out. And that's how I know how ; don't you see, sir ? " 

" And do you often go out ? " 

" As often as I can," said Charley, opening her eyes, and 
smiling, " because of earning sixpences and shillings ! " 

" And do you always lock the babies up when you go out ? " 

" To keep 'em safe, sir, don't you see ? " said Charley. 
" Mrs. Blinder comes up now and then, and Mr. Gridley 
comes up sometimes, and perhaps I can run in sometimes, 
and they can play you know, and Tom an't afraid of being 
locked up, are you, Tom ? " 

"No-o !".said Tom, stoutly. 

" When it comes on dark, the lamps are lighted down in 



MRS. BLINDER. 255 

the court, and they show up here quite bright almost quite 
bright. Don't they, Tom ?" 

" Yes, Charley," said Tom, " almost quite bright." 

" Then he's as good as gold," said the little creature ! 
in such a motherly, womanly way! "And when Emma's 
tired, he puts her to bed. And when he's tired he goes to 
bed himself. And when I come home and light the candle, 
and has a bit of supper, he sits up again and has it with me. 
Don't you, Tom?" 

" O yes, Charley ! " said Tom. " That I do ! " And either 
in this glimpse of the great pleasure of his life, or in grati 
tude and love for Charley, who was all in all to him, he laid 
his face among the scanty folds of her frock, and passed from 
laughing into crying. 

It was the first time since our entry, that a tear had been 
shed among these children. The little orphan girl had spoken 
of their father, and their mother, as if all that sorrow were 
subdued by the necessity of taking courage, and by her 
childish importance in being able to work, and by her 
bustling busy way. But, now, when Tom cried ; although 
she sat quite tranquil, looking quietly at us, and did not by 
any movement disturb a hair of the head of either of her 
little charges ; I saw two silent tears fall down her face. 

I stood at the window with Ada, pretending to look at the 
housetops, and the blackened stack of chimneys, and the poor 
plants, and the birds in little cages belonging to the neigh 
bours, when I found that Mrs. Blinder, from the shop below, 
had come in (perhaps it had taken her all this time to get 
up-stairs) and was talking to my guardian. 

" It's not much to forgive 'em the rent, sir," she said : " who 
could take it from them ! " 

" Well, well ! " said my guardian to us two. "It is enough 
that the time will come when this good woman will find that 
it was much, and that forasmuch as she did it unto the least 
of these ! This child," he added, after a few moments, 
" could she possibly continue this ? " 



256 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Really, sir, I think she might, 11 said Mrs. Blinder, getting 
her heavy breath by painful degrees. " She's as handy as it's 
possible to be. Bless you, sir, the way she tended them two 
children, after the mother died, was the talk of the yard ! 
And it was a wonder to see her with him after he was took' 
ill, it really was ! ' Mrs. Blinder, 1 he said to me the very 
last he spoke he was lying there 'Mrs. Blinder, whatever 
my calling may have been, I see a Angel sitting in this room 
last night along with my child, and I trust her to Our 
Father! 111 

" He had no other calling ? " said my guardian. 

"No, sir, 11 returned Mrs. Blinder, "he was nothing but a 
follerer. When he first came to lodge here, I didn't know 
what he was, and I confess that when I found out I gave him 
notice. It wasn't liked in the yard. It wasn't approved by 
the other lodgers. It is not a genteel calling," said Mrs. 
Blinder, "and most people do object to it. Mr. Gridley 
objected to it, very strong; and he is a good lodger, though 
his temper has been hard tried. 11 

" So you gave him notice ? " said my guardian. 

"So I gave him notice," said Mrs. Blinder. "But really 
when the time came, and I knew no other ill of him, I was 
in doubts. He was punctual and diligent; he did what he 
had to do, sir," said Mrs. Blinder, unconsciously fixing Mr. 
Skimpole with her eye; "and it's something in this world, 
even to do that." 

" So you kept him after all ? " 

"Why, I said that if he could arrange with Mr. Gridley, 
I could arrange it with the other lodgers, and should not 
so much mind its being liked or disliked in the yard. Mr. 
Gridley gave his consent gruff but gave it. He was always 
gruff with him, but he has been kind to the children since. 
A person is never known till a person is proved." 

"Have many people been kind to the children?" asked 
Mr. Jarndyce. 

" Upon the whole, not so bad, sir," said Mrs. Blinder ; 



ENTRANCE OF MR. GRIDLEY. 257 

"but, certainly not so many as would have been, if their 
father's calling had been different. Mr. Coavins gave a guinea, 
and the follerers made up a little purse. Some neighbours in 
the yard, that had always joked and tapped their shoulders 
when he went by, came forward with a little subscription, 
and in general not so bad. Similarly with Charlotte. 
Some people won't employ her, because she was a follerer's 
child ; some people that do employ her, cast it at her ; some 
make a merit of having her to work for them, with that and 
all her drawbacks upon her : and perhaps pay her less and 
put upon her more. But she's patienter than others would 
be, and is clever too, and always willing, up to the full mark 
of her strength and over. So I should say, in general, not 
so bad, sir, but might be better. 11 

Mrs. Blinder sat down to give herself a more favourable 
opportunity of recovering her breath, exhausted anew by so 
much talking before it was fully restored. Mr. Jarndyce was 
turning to speak to us, when his attention was attracted, 
by the abrupt entrance into the room of the Mr. Gridley 
who had been mentioned, and whom we had seen on our 
way up. 

"I don't know what you may be doing here, ladies and 
gentlemen," he said, as if he resented our presence, "but 
you'll excuse my coming in. I don't come in to stare about 
me. Well, Charley ! Well, Tom ! Well, little one ! How 
is it with us all to-day ? " 

He bent over the group, in a caressing way, and clearly 
was regarded as a friend by the children, though his face 
retained its stern character, and his manner to us was as rude 
as it could be. My guardian noticed it, and respected it. 

"No one, surely, would come here to stare about him," he 
said mildly. 

"May be so, sir, may be so," returned the other, taking 
Tom upon his knee, and waving him off impatiently. "I 
don't want to argue with ladies and gentlemen. I have had 
enough of arguing, to last one man his life." 

VOL. i. s 






258 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"You have sufficient reason, I dare say," said Mr. Jarn- 
dyce, "for being chafed and irritated " 

" There again ! " exclaimed the man, becoming violently 
angry. " I am of a quarrelsome temper. I am irascible. I 
am not polite ! " 

" Not very, I think." 

" Sir,"" said Gridley, putting down the child, and going up 
to him as if he meant to strike him. " Do you know any 
thing of Courts of Equity ?" 

"Perhaps I do, to my sorrow. 

" To your sorrow ? " said the man, pausing in his wrath. 
" If so, i beg your pardon. I am not polite, I know. I beg 
your pardon ! Sir, 11 with renewed violence, " I have been 
dragged for five-and- twenty years over burning iron, and I 
have lost the habit of treading upon velvet. Go into the 
Court of Chancery yonder, and ask what is one of the 
standing jokes that brighten up their business sometimes, and 
they will tell you that the best joke they have, is the man 
from Shropshire. I," he said, beating one hand on the other, 
passionately, " am the man from Shropshire." 

" I believe, I and my family have also had the honour of 
furnishing some entertainment in the same grave place," said 
my guardian, composedly. "You may have heard my name 
Jamdyce." 

" Mr. Jarndyce, 111 said Gridley, with a rough sort of saluta 
tion, "you bear your wrongs more quietly than I can bear 
mine. More than that, I tell you and I tell this gentleman, 
and these young ladies, if they are friends of yours that if 
I took my wrongs in any other way, I should be driven mad ! 
It is only by resenting them, and by revenging them in my 
mind, and by angrily demanding the justice I never get, that 
I am able to keep my wits together. It is only that ! " he 
said, speaking in a homely, rustic way, and with great 
vehemence. " You may tell me that I over-excite myself. I 
answer that it's in my nature to do it, under wrong, and E 
must do it. There's nothing between doing it, and sinking 



GRIDLEVS CASK. 259 

into the smiling state of the poor little mad woman that 
haunts the Court. If I was once to sit down under it, I 
should become imbecile." 

The passion and heat in which he was, and the manner in 
which his face worked, and the violent gestures with which he 
accompanied what he said, were most painful to see. 

"Mr. Jarndyce," he said, "consider my case. As true as 
there is a Heaven above us, this is my case. I am one of two 
brothers. My father (a farmer) made a will, and left his 
farm and stock, and so forth, to my mother, for her life. 
After my mother's death, all was to come to me, except a 
legacy of three hundred pounds that I was then to pay my 
brother. My mother died. My brother, some time after 
wards, claimed his legacy. I, and some of my relations, said 
that he had had a part of it already, in board and lodging, 
and some other things. Now mind ! That was the question, 
and nothing else. No one disputed the will ; no one disputed 
anything but whether part of that three hundred pounds 
had been already paid or not. To settle that question, my 
brother filing a bill, I was obliged to go into this accursed 
Chancery ; I was forced there, because the law forced me, and 
would let me go nowhere else. Seventeen people were made 
defendants to that simple suit! It first came on, after two 
years. It was then stopped for another two years, while the 
Master (may his head rot oft'!) inquired whether I was my 
father's son about which, there was no dispute at all with 
any mortal creature. He then found out, that there were not 
defendants enough remember, there were only seventeen as 
yet ! but, that we must have another who had been left out ; 
and must begin all over again. The costs at that time 
^before the thing was begun ! were three times the legacy. 
My brother would have given up the legacy, and joyful, to 
escape more costs. My whole estate, left to me in that will 
of my father's, has gone in costs. The suit, still undecided, 
has fallen into rack, and ruin, and despair, with everything 
else and here I stand, this day ! Now, Mr. Jarndyce, in 



<>60 BLEAK HOUSE. 

your suit there are thousands and thousands involved where 
in mine there are hundreds. Is mine less hard to bear, or is 
it harder to bear, when my whole living was in it, and has 
been thus shamefully sucked away?" 

Mr. Jamdyce said that he condoled with him with all his 
heart, and that he set up no monopoly, himself, in being 
unjustly treated by this monstrous system. 

" There again ! " said Mr. Gridley, with no diminution of 
his rage. " The system ! I am told, on all hands, it's the 
system. I mustn't look to individuals. It's the system. I 
mustn't go into Court, and say, 'My Lord, I beg to know 
this from you is this right or wrong? Have you the face 
to tell me I have received justice, and therefore am dismissed ?' 
My Lord knows nothing of it. He sits there, to administer 
the system. I mustn't go to Mr. Tulkinghorn, the solicitor 
in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and say to him when he makes me 
furious, by being so cool and satisfied as they all do ; for I 
know they gain by it while I lose, don't I? I mustn't say 
to him, I will have something out of some one for my ruin, 
by fair means or foul ! He is not responsible. It's the system. 
But, if I do no violence to any of them, here I may ! I 
don't know what may happen if I am carried beyond myself 
at last ! I will accuse the individual workers of that system 
against me, face to face, before the great eternal bar ! " 

His passion was fearful. I could not have believed in such - 
rage without seeing it. 

" I have done ! " he said, sitting down and wiping his face. 
" Mr. Jarndyce, I have done ! I am violent, I know. I ought 
to know it. I have been in prison for contempt of Court. I 
have been in prison for threatening the solicitor. I have been 
in this trouble, and that trouble, and shall be again. I am the 
man from Shropshire, and I sometimes go beyond amusing them 
though they have found it amusing, too, to see me committed 
into custody, and brought up in custody, and all that. It 
would be better for me, they tell me, if I restrained myself. 
I tell them, that if I did restrain myself, I should become 



THE MAN FROM SHROPSHIRE 261 

imbecile. I was & good-enough-tempered man once, I believe. 
People in my part of the country, say, they remember me so ; 
but, now, I must have this vent under my sense of injury, or 
nothing could hold my wits together. ' It would be far better 
for you, Mr. Gridley, 1 the Lord Chancellor told me last week, 
* not to waste your time here, and to stay, usefully employed, 
down in Shropshire. 1 * My Lord, my Lord, I know it would,' 
said I to him, * and it would have been far better for me never 
to have heard the name of your high office; but, unhappily 
for me, I can't undo the past, and the past drives me here ! ' 
Besides," he added, breaking fiercely out, " 111 shame them. 
To the last, I'll show myself in that Court to its shame. If 
I knew when I was going to die, and could be carried there, 
and had a voice to speak with, I would die there, saying, 
'You have brought me here, and sent me from here, many 
and many a time. Now send me out, feet foremost ! ' ' 

His countenance had, perhaps for years, become so set in 
its contentious expression that it did not soften, even now 
when he was quiet. 

" I came to take these babies down to my room for an 
hour," he said, going to them again, " and let them play 
about. I didn't mean to say all this, but it don't much 
signify. You're not afraid of me, Tom ; are you ? " 

" No ! " said Tom. " You ain't angry with me" 

" You are right, my child. You're going back, Charley ? 
Aye ? Come then, little one ! " He took the youngest child 
on his arm, where she was willing enough to be carried. " I 
shouldn't wonder if we found a ginger-bread soldier down 
stairs. Let's go and look for him !" 

He made his former rough salutation, which was not 
deficient in a certain respect, to Mr. Jamdyce ; and bowing 
slightly to us, went down-stairs to his room. 

Upon that, Mr. Skimpole began to talk, for the first time 
since our arrival, in his usual gay strain. He said, Well, it 
was really very pleasant to see how things lazily adapted 
themselves to purposes. Here was this -Mr. Grid lev, a man 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

of a robust will, and surprising energy intellectually speak 
ing, a sort of inharmonious blacksmith and he could easily 
imagine that there Gridley was, years ago, wandering about 
in life for something to expend his superfluous combativeness 
upon a sort of Young Love among the thorns when the 
Court of Chancery came in his way, and accommodated him 
with the exact thing he wanted. There they were, matched, 
ever afterwards ! Otherwise he might have been a great 
general, blowing up all sorts of towns, or he might have been a 
great politician, dealing in all sorts of parliamentary rhetoric ; 
but, as it was, he and the Court of Chancery had fallen upon 
each other in the pleasantest way, and nobody was much the 
worse, and Gridley was, so to speak, from that hour provided 
for. Then look at Coavinses ! How delightfully poor Coavinses 
(father of these charming children) illustrated the same prin 
ciple ! He, Mr. Skimpole, himself, had sometimes repined 
at the existence of Coavinses. He had found Coavinses in 
his way. He could have dispensed with Coavinses. There 
had been times when, if he had been a Sultan, and his Grand 
Vizier had said one morning, " What does the Commander of 
the Faithful require at the hands of his slave ? " he might 
have even gone so far as to reply, " The head of Coavinses ! " 
But what turned out to be the case ? That, all that time, he 
had been giving employment to a most deserving man ; that 
he had been a benefactor to Coavinses ; that he had actually 
been enabling Coavinses to bring up these charming children 
in this agreeable way, developing these social virtues ! Inso 
much that his heart had just now swelled, and the tears had 
come into his eyes, when he had looked round the room, and 
thought, " I was the great patron of Coavinses, and his little 
comforts were my work ! " 

There was something so captivating in his light way of 
touching these fantastic strings, and he was such a mirthful 
child by the side of the graver childhood we had seen, that 
he made my guardian smile even as he turned towards us 
from a little private talk with Mrs. Blinder. We kissed 



CHARLEY RUNS BACK TO WORK. 263 

Charley, and took her clown-stairs with us, and stopped out- 
'side the house to see her run away to her work. I don't 
know where she was going, but we saw her run, such a little, 
little creature, in her womanly bonnet and apron, through a 
covered way at the bottom of the court ; and melt into the "7 
city's strife and sound, like a dewdrop in an ocean. 






CHAPTER XVI. 

TOM-ALL-ALONF/S. 

MY Lady Dedlock is restless, very restless. The astonished 
fashionable intelligence hardly knows where to have her. To 
day, she is at Chesney Wold ; yesterday she was at her house 
in town ; to-morrow, she may be abroad, for anything the 
fashionable intelligence can with confidence predict. Even 
Sir Leicester's gallantry has some trouble to keep pace with 
her. It would have more, but that his other faithful ally, for 
better and for worse the gout darts into the old oak bed 
chamber at Chesney Wold, and grips him by both legs. 

Sir Leicester receives the gout as a troublesome demon, but 
still a demon of the patrician order. All the Dedlocks, in 
the direct male line, through a course of time during and 
beyond which the memory of man goeth not to the contrary, 
have had the gout. It can be proved, sir. Other men's 
fathers may have died of the rheumatism, or may have taken 
base contagion from the tainted blood of the sick vulgar, but 
the Dedlock family have communicated something exclusive, 
even to the levelling process of dying, by dying of their own 
family gout. It has come down, through the illustrious line, 
like the plate, or the pictures, or the place in Lincolnshire. 
It is among their dignities. Sir Leicester is, perhaps, not 
wholly without an impression, though he has never resolved 
it into words, that the angel of death in the discharge of his 
necessary duties may observe to the shades of the aristocracy? 



THE FAMILY GOUT. 265 

"My lords and gentlemen, I have the honour to present to 
you another Dedlock certified to have arrived per the family 
gout." 

Hence, Sir Leicester yields up his family legs to the family 
disorder, as if he held his name and fortune on that feudal 
tenure. He feels, that for a Dedlock to he laid upon his 
back and spasmodically twitched and stabbed in his extremi 
ties, is a liberty taken somewhere ; but, he thinks, " We have 
all yielded to this; it belongs to us; it has, for some hundreds 
of years, been understood that we are not to make the 
vaults in the park interesting on more ignoble terms ; and I 
submit myself to the compromise." 

And a goodly show he makes, lying in a flush of crimson 
and gold, in the midst of the great drawing-room, before his 
favourite picture of my Lady, with broad strips of sunlight 
shining in, down the long perspective, through the long line 
of windows, and alternating with soft reliefs of shadow. Out 
side, the stately oaks, rooted for ages in the green ground 
which has never known ploughshare, but was still a Chase 
when kings rode to battle with sword and shield, and rode 
a-hunting with bow and arrow ; bear witness to his greatness. 
Inside, his forefathers, looking on him from the walls, say, 
"Each of us was a passing reality here, and left this coloured 
shadow of himself, and melted into remembrance as dreamy 
as the distant voices of the rooks now lulling you to rest ; " 
and bear their testimony to his greatness, too. And he 
is very great, this day. And woe to Boythorn, or other 
daring wight, who shall presumptuously contest an inch 
with him ! 

My Lady is at present represented, near Sir Leicester, by 
her portrait. She has flitted away to town, with no intention 
of remaining there, and will soon flit hither again, to the 
confusion of the fashionable intelligence. The house in town 
is not prepared for her reception. It is muffled and dreary. 
Only one Mercury in powder, gapes disconsolate at the hall- 
window ; and he mentioned last night to another Mercury of 



266 BLEAK HOUSE. 

his acquaintance, also accustomed to good society, that if 
that sort of thing was to last which it couldn't, for a man 
of his spirits couldn't bear it, and a man of his figure couldn't 
be expected to bear it there would be no resource for him, 
upon his honour, but to cut his throat ! 

What connexion can there be, between the place in Lincoln 
shire, the house in town, the Mercury in powder, and the 
whereabout of Jo the outlaw with the broom, who had that 
distant ray of light upon him when he swept the churchyard- 
step? What connexion can there have been between many 
people in the innumerable histories of this world, who, from 
v opposite sides of great gulfs, have, nevertheless, been very 
curiously brought together ! 

Jo sweeps his crossing all day long, unconscious of the link, 
if any link there be. He sums up his mental condition, when 
asked a question, by replying that he "don't know nothink.'" 1 
He knows that it's hard to keep the mud off the crossing in 
dirty weather, and harder still to live by doing it. Nobody 
/taught him, even that much ; he found it out. 
v/ Jo lives that is to say, Jo has not yet died in a ruinous 
place, known to the like of him by the name of Tom-all- 
Alone's. It is a black, dilapidated street, avoided by all 
decent people ; where the crazy houses were seized upon, when 
their decay was far advanced, by some bold vagrants, who, 
after establishing their own possession, took to letting them 
out in lodgings. Now, these tumbling tenements contain, by 
night, a swarm of misery. As, on the ruined human wretch, 
vermin parasites appear, so, these ruined shelters have bred a 
' crowd of foul existence that crawls in and out of gaps in walls 
and boards ; and coils itself to sleep, in maggot numbers, 
where the rain drips in ; and comes and goes, fetching and 
carrying fever, and sowing more evil in its every footprint 
than Lord Goodie, and Sir Thomas Doodle, and the Duke of 
Foodie, and all the fine gentlemen in office, down to Zoodle, 
shall set right in five hundred years though born expressly 
to do it. 



JO. 267 

Twice, lately, there has been a crash and a cloud of dust, 
like the springing of a mine, in Tom-all-Alone's ; and, each 
time, a house has fallen. These accidents have made a 
paragraph in the newspapers, and have filled a bed or two in 
the nearest hospital. The gaps remain, and there are not 
unpopular lodgings among the rubbish. As several more 
houses are nearly ready to go, the next crash in Tom-all- 
Alone's may be expected to be a good one. 

This desirable property is in Chancery, of course. It would 
be an insult to the discernment of any man with half an eye, 
to' tell him so. Whether " Tom " is the popular representative 
of the original plaintiff or defendant in Jarndyae and Jam- 
dyce ; or, whether Tom lived here when the suit had laid the 
street waste, all alone, until other settlers came to join him ; 
or, whether the traditional title is a comprehensive name for 
a retreat cut off from honest company and put out of the 
pale of hope ; perhaps nobody knows. Certainly, Jo don^t 
know. 

"For / donV says Jo, "/ don't know nothink." 

It must be a strange state to be like Jo ! To shuffle 
through the streets, unfamiliar with the shapes, and in utter 
darkness as to the meaning, of those mysterious symbols, so 
abundant over the shops, and at the corners of streets, and 
on the doors, and in the windows ! To see people read, and 
to see people write, and to see the postmen deliver letters, 
and not to have the least idea of all that language to be, 
to every scrap of it, stone blind and dumb ! It must be very 
puzzling to see the good company going to the churches on 
Sundays, with their books in their hands, and to think (for 
perhaps Jo does think, at odd times) what does it all mean, 
and if it means anything to anybody, how comes it that it 
means nothing to me ? To be hustled, and jostled, and 
moved on ; and really to feel that it would appear to be 
perfectly true that I have no business, here, or there, or any 
where; and yet to be perplexed by the consideration that I 
am here somehow, too, and everybody overlooked me until I 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

became the creature that I am ! It must be a strange state, 
not merely to be told that I am scarcely human (as in the 
case of my offering myself for a witness), but to feel it of my 
own knowledge all my life ! To see the horses, dogs, and 
cattle, go by me, and to know that in ignorance I belong to 
them, and not to the superior beings in my shape, whose 
delicacy I offend ! Jo's ideas of a Criminal Trial, or a Judge,/ 
or a Bishop, or a Government, or that inestimable jewel to 
him (if he only knew it) the Constitution, should be strange I 
His whole material and immaterial life is wonderfully strange] 
his death, the strangest thing of all. 

Jo comes out of Tom-all-Alone's, meeting the tardy morn 
ing which is always late in getting down there, and munches 
his dirty bit of bread as he comes along. His way lying 
through many streets, and the houses not yet being open, he 
sits down to breakfast on the door-step of the Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and gives it a 
brush when he has finished, as an acknowledgment of the 
accommodation. He admires the size of the edifice, and 
wonders what it's all about. He has no idea, poor wretch, of 
the spiritual destitution of a coral reef in the Pacific, or what 
it costs to look up the precious souls among the cocoa-nuts 
and bread-fruit. 

He goes to his crossing, and begins to lay it out for the 
day. The town awakes ; the great tee-totum is set up for its 
daily spin and whirl ; all that unaccountable reading and 
writing, which has been suspended for a few hours, re 
commences. Jo, and the other lower animals, get on in the 
unintelligible mess as they caiL It is market-day. The 
blinded oxen, oVer-goaded, over-driven, never guided, run into 
wrong places and are beaten out; and plunge, red-eyed and 
foaming, at stone walk ; and often sorely hurt the innocent, 
and often sorely hurt themselves. Very like Jo and his order ; 
very, very like ! 

A band of music comes and plays. Jo listens to it. Sol 
does a dog a drover's dog, 'waiting for his master outside aj 



MR. TULKINGHORN IN HIS CHAMBERS. 269 

butcher's shop, and evidently thinking about those sheep he 
has had upon his mind for some hours, and is happily rid of. 
He seems perplexed respecting three or four ; can't remember 
where he left them; looks up and down the street, as half 
expecting to see them astray ; suddenly pricks up his ears 
and remembers all about it. A thoroughly vagabond dog, 
accustomed to low company and public-houses ; a terrific dog 
to sheep ; ready at a whistle to scamper over their backs, and 
tear out mouthfuls of their wool ; but an educated, improved, 
developed dog, who has been taught his duties and knows 
how to discharge them. He and Jo listen to the music, 
probably with much the same amount of animal satisfaction ; 
likewise, as to awakened association, aspiration or regret, 
melancholy or joyful reference to things beyond the senses, 
they are probably upon a par. But, otherwise, how far above 
the human listener is the brute ! 

Turn that dog's descendants wild, like Jo, and in a very 
few years they will so degenerate that they will lose even 
their bark but not their bite. 

The day changes as it wears itself away, and becomes dark 
and drizzly. Jo fights it out, at his crossing, among the mud 
and wheels, the horses, whips, and umbrellas, and gets but 
a scanty sum to pay for the unsavoury shelter of Tom-all- 
Alone's. Twilight comes on ; gas begins to start up in the 
shops; the lamplighter, with his ladder, runs along the 
margin of the pavement. A wretched evening is beginning 
to close in. 

In his chambers, Mr. Tulkinghorn sits meditating an appli 
cation to the nearest magistrate to-morrow morning for a 
warrant. Gridley, a disappointed suitor, has been here to-day, 
and has been alarming. We are not to be put in bodily fear, 
and that ill-conditioned fellow shall be held to bail again. 
From the ceiling, foreshortened Allegory, in the person of 
one impossible Roman upside down, points with the arm of 
Samson (out of joint, and an odd one) obtrusively towards 
the window. Why should Mr. Tulkinghorn, for such no 



270 BLEAK HOUSE. 

reason, look out of window ? Is the hand not always pointing 
there ? So he does not look out of window. 

And if he did, what would it be to see a woman going 

by ? There are women enough in the world, Mr. Tulking- 

horn thinks too many ; they are at the bottom of all 

that goes wrong in it, though, for the matter of that, 

they create business for lawyers. What would it be to see 

/ a woman going by, even though she were going secretly? 

' They are all secret. Mr. Tulkinghorn knows that, very 

well. 

But they are not all like the woman who now leaves him 
and his house behind ; between whose plain dress, and her 
refined manner, there is something exceedingly inconsistent. 
She should be an upper servant by her attire, yet, in her 
air and step, though both are hurried and assumed as far 
as she can assume in the muddy streets, which she treads 
with an unaccustomed foot she is a lady. Her face is veiled, 
and still she sufficiently betrays herself to make more than 
one of those who pass her look round sharply. 

She never turns her head. Lady or servant, she has a 
purpose in her, and can follow it. She never turns her head, 
until she comes to the crossing where Jo plies with his broom. 
He crosses with her, and begs. Still, she does not turn her 
head until she has landed on the other side. Then, she 
slightly beckons to him, and says " Come here ! " 

Jo follows her, a pace or two, into a quiet court. 

" Are you the boy I've read of in the papers ? " she asked 
behind her veil. 

" I don't know," says Jo, staring moodily at the veil, 
"nothink about no papers. I don't know nothink about 
nothink at all/' 

"Were you examined at an Inquest ? n 

" I don't know nothink about no where I was took by the 
beadle, do you mean ? " says Jo. " Was the boy's name at 
the Inkwhich, Jo?" 

"Yes." 



JO AND THE JOLLY SERVANT. 

" That's me ! " says Jo. 

" Come farther up." 

"You mean about the man?" says Jo, following. "Him 
as wos dead ? " 

" Hush ! Speak in a whisper ! Yes. Did he look, when 
he was living, so very ill and poor? 11 

"O jist!" says Jo. 

"Did he look like not like you?" says the woman with 
abhorrence. 

" O not so bad as me," says Jo. " Fin a regular one / am ! 
You didn't know him, did you ? " 

" How dare you ask me if I knew him ? " 

" No offence, my lady," says Jo, with much humility ; for 
even he has got at the suspicion of her being a lady. 

" I am not a lady. I am a servant." 

" You are a jolly servant ! " says Jo ; without the least 
idea of saying anything offensive ; merely as a tribute of 
admiration. 

" Listen and be silent. Don't talk to me, and stand farther 
from me ! Can you show me all those places that were 
spoken of in the account I read ? The place he wrote for, 
the place he died at, the place where you were taken to, and 
the place where he was buried? Do you know the place 
where he was buried ? " 

Jo answers with a nod ; having also nodded as each other 
place was mentioned. 

"Go before me, and show me all those dreadful places. 
Stop opposite to each, and don't speak to me unless I speak 
to you. Don't look back. Do what I want, and I will pay 
you well." 

Jo attends closely while the words are being spoken ; tells 
them off on his broom -handle, finding them rather hard ; 
pauses to consider their meaning ; considers it satisfactory, 
and nods his ragged head. 

"I'm fly," says Jo. "But fen larks, you know! Stow 
hooking it ! " 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

" What does the horrible creature mean ? " exclaims the 
servant, recoiling from him. 

" Stow cutting away, you know ! " says Jo. 

" I don't understand you. Go on before ! I will give you 
more money than you ever had in your life/' 

Jo screws up his mouth into a whistle, gives his ragged 
head a rub, takes his broom under his arm, and leads the 
way; passing deftly, with his bare feet, over the hard stones, 
and through the mud and mire. 

Cook's Court. Jo stops. A pause. 

"Who lives here?" 

" Him wot give him his writing, and give me half a bull," 
says Jo, in a whisper, without looking over his shoulder. 

" Go on to the next." 

Krook's house. Jo stops again. A longer pause. 

" Who lives here ? " 

"He lived here," Jo answers as before. 

After a silence he is asked " In which room ? " 

"In the back room up there. You can see the winder 
from this corner. Up there ! That's where I see him stritched 
out. This is the public ouse where I was took to." 

" Go on to the next ! " 

It is a longer walk to the next; but Jo, relieved of his 
first suspicions, sticks to the forms imposed upon him, and 
does not look round. By many devious ways, reeking with 
offence of many kinds, they come to the little tunnel of 
a court, and to the gas-lamp (lighted now), and to the 
iron gate. 

"He was put there," says Jo, holding to the bars and 
looking in. 

" Where ? O, what a scene of horror ! " 

" There ! " says Jo, pointn g. " Over yinder. Among them 
piles of bones, and close to that there kitchin winder! 
They put him wery nigh the top. They was obliged to 
stamp upon it to git it in. I could unkiver it for you with 
my broom, if the gate was open. That's why they locks it, 



GRAVEYARD VISITORS. 273 

I s'pose," giving it a shake. " It's always locked. Look at 
the rat!" cries Jo, excited. "Hi! Look! There he goes! 
Ho ! Into the ground ! " 

The servant shrinks into a corner into a corner of that 
hideous archway, with its deadly stains contaminating her 
dress ; and putting out her two hands, and passionately telling 
him to keep away from her, for he is loathsome to her, so 
remains for some moments. Jo stands staring, and is still 
staring when she recovers herself. 

" Is this place of abomination, consecrated ground ? " 

"I don't know nothink of consequential ground," says Jo, 
still staring. 

"Is it blessed?" 

" WHICH ? " says Jo, in the last degree amazed. 

"Is it blessed?" 

" Fm blest if I know," says Jo, staring more than ever ; 
" but I shouldn't think it warn't. Blest ? " repeats Jo, some 
thing troubled in his mind. "It an't done it much good if 
it is. Blest? I should think it was t'othered myself. But 
I don't know nothink ! " 

The servant takes as little heed of what he says, as she 
seems to take of what she has said herself. She draws off her 
glove, to get some money from her purse. Jo silently notices 
how white and small her hand is, and what a jolly servant 
she must be to wear such sparkling rings. 

She drops a piece of money in his hand, without touching 
it, and shuddering as their hands approach. " Now," she 
adds, " show me the spot again ! " 

Jo thrusts the handle of his broom between the bars of 
the gate, and, with his utmost power of elaboration, points 
it out. At length, looking aside to see if he has made 
himself intelligible, he finds that he is alone. 

His first proceeding, is, to hold the piece of money to 
the gas-light, and to be overpowered at finding that it is 
yellow gold. His next, is, to give it a one-sided bite at the 
edge, as a test of its quality. His next, to put it in his 

VOL. i. T 



274. BLEAK HOUSE. 

mouth for safety, and to sweep the step and passage with 
great care. His job done, he sets off for Tom-all- Alone's ; 
stopping in the light of innumerable gas-lamps to produce 
the piece of gold, and give it another one-sided bite, as a re 
assurance of its being genuine. 

The Mercury in powder is in no want of society to-night, 
for my Lady goes to a grand dinner, and three or four balls. 
Sir Leicester is fidgety, down at Chesney Wold, with no 
better company than the gout ; he complains to Mrs. Rounce- 
well that the rain makes such a monotonous pattering on 
the terrace, that he can't read the paper, even by the fireside 
in his own snug dressing-room. 

"Sir Leicester would have done better to try the other 

side of the house, my dear," says Mrs. Rouncewell to Rosa. 

"His dressing-room is on my Lady's side. And in all these 

\ years I never heard the step upon the Ghost's Walk, more 

I distinct than it is to-night ! " 



CHAPTER XVII. 

ESTHER'S x A u u ATIVE. 

RICHARD very often came to see us while \ve remained in 
London (though he soon failed in his letter-writing), and 
with his quick abilities, his good spirits, his good temper, 
his gaiety and freshness, was always delightful. But, though 
I liked him more and more, the better I knew him, I still 
felt more and more, how much it was to be regretted that 
he had been educated in no habits of application and concen 
tration. The system which had addressed him in exactly 
the same manner as it had addressed hundreds of other boys, 
all varying in character and capacity, had enabled him to 
dash through his tasks, always with fair credit, and often 
with distinction ; but in a fitful, dazzling way that had con 
firmed his reliance on those very qualities in himself, which 
it had been most desirable to direct and train. They were 
good qualities, without which no high place can be meri 
toriously won ; but, like fire and water, though excellent 
servants, they were very bad masters. If they had been 
under Richard's direction, they would have been his friends ; 
but Richard being under their direction, they became his 
enemies. 

I write down these opinions, not because I believe that this 
or any other thing was so, because I thought so ; but only 
because I did think so, and I want to be quite candid about 
all I thought and did. These were my thoughts about 



276 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Richard. I thought I often observed besides, how right my 
guardian was in what he had said; and that the uncertain 
ties and delays of the Chancery suit had imparted to his 
nature something of the careless spirit of a gamester, who 
felt that he was part of a great gaming system. 

Mr. and Mrs. Bayham Badger coming one afternoon, when 
my guardian was not at home, in the course of conversation 
I naturally inquired after Richard. 

"Why, Mr. Carstone," said Mrs. Badger, "is very well, 
and is, I assure you, a great acquisition to our society. 
Captain Swosser used to say of me that I was always better 
than land a-head and a breeze a-starn to the midshipmen's 
mess when the purser's junk had become as tough as the 
fore-topsel weather earrings. It was his naval way of mention 
ing generally that 1 was an acquisition to any society. I 
may render the same tribute, I am sure, to Mr. Carstone. 
But I you won't think me premature if I mention it? 11 

I said no, as Mrs. Badger's insinuating tone seemed to 
require such an answer. 

"Nor Miss Clare?" said Mrs. Bayham Badger, sweetly. 

Ada said no, too, and looked uneasy. 

"Why, you see, my dears," said Mrs. Badger "you'll 
excuse me calling you my deal's ? " 

We entreated Mrs. Badger not to mention it. 

" Because you really are, if I may take the liberty of saying 
so," pursued Mrs. Badger, "so perfectly charming. You see, 
my dears, that although I am still young or Mr. Bayham 
Badger pays me the compliment of saying so " 

" No," Mr. Badger called out, like some one contradicting 
at a public meeting. " Not at all ! " 

" Very well," smiled Mrs. Badger, " we will say still young." 

(" Undoubtedly," said Mr. Badger.) 

" My dears, though still young, I have had many oppor 
tunities of observing young men. There were many such on 
board the dear old Crippler, I assure you. After that, when 
I was with Captain Swosser in the Mediterranean, I embraced 



EXPERIENCES OF MRS. BAYHAM BADGER. 277 

every opportunity of knowing and befriending the midship 
men under Captain Swosser's command. You never heard 
them called the young gentlemen, my dears, and probably 
would not understand allusions to their pipe-claying their 
weekly accounts; but it is otherwise with me, for blue water 
has been a second home to me, and I have been quite a 
sailor. Again, with Professor Dingo." 

("A man of European reputation," murmured Mr. Badger.) 

" When I lost my dear first," and became the wife of my 
dear second," said Mrs. Badger, speaking of her former 
husbands as if they were parts of a charade, " I still enjoyed 
opportunities of observing youth. The class attendant on 
Professor Dingo's lectures was a large one, and it became 
my pride, as the wife of an eminent scientific man seeking 
herself in science the utmost consolation it could impart, to 
throw our house open to the students, as a kind of Scientific 
Exchange. Every Tuesday evening there was lemonade and 
a mixed biscuit, for all who chose to partake of those 
refreshments. And there was science to an unlimited extent." 

("Remarkable assemblies those, Miss Summerson," said 
Mr. Badger, reverentially. " There must have been great 
intellectual friction going on there, under the auspices of such 
a man ! ") 

"And now," pursued Mrs. Badger, "now that I am the 
wife of my dear third, Mr. Badger, I still pursue those habits 
of observation which were formed during the lifetime of 
Captain Swosser, and adapted to new and unexpected purposes 
during the lifetime of Professor Dingo. I therefore have 
not come to the consideration of Mr. Carstone as a Neophyte. 
And yet I am very much of the opinion, my dears, that he 
has not chosen his profession advisedly." 

Ada looked so very anxious now, that I asked Mrs. Badger 
on what she founded her supposition ? 

" My dear Miss Summerson," she replied, " on Mr. Carstone's 
character and conduct. He is of such a very easy disposition, 
that probably he would never think it worth while to mention 



278 BLEAK HOUSE. 

how he really feels ; but, he feels languid about the profession. 
He has not that positive interest in it which makes it his 
vocation. If he has any decided impression in reference to 
it, I should say it was that it is a tiresome pursuit. Now, 
this is not promising. Young men, like Mr. Allan Wood- 
\_court, who take it from a strong interest in all that it can 
do, will find some reward in it through a great deal of work 
for a very little money, and through years of considerable 
endurance and disappointment. But I am quite convinced 
that this would never be the case with Mr. Carstone." 

"Does Mr. Badger think so too?'" asked Ada, timidly. 

" Why," said Mr. Badger, " to tell the truth, Miss Clare, 
this view of the matter had not occurred to me until Mrs. 
Badger mentioned it. But, when Mrs. Badger put it in that 
light, I naturally gave great consideration to it ; knowing 
that Mrs. Badger's mind, in addition to its natural advan 
tages, has had the rare advantage of being formed by two 
such very distinguished (I will even say illustrious) public men 
as Captain Swosser of the Royal Navy and Professor Dingo. 
The conclusion at which I have arrived is in short, is Mrs. 
Badger's conclusion." 

" It was a maxim of Captain Swosser's," said Mrs. Badger, 
"speaking in his figurative naval manner, that when you 
make pitch hot, you cannot make it too hot ; and that if you 
only have to swab a plank, you should swab it as if Davy 
Jones were after you. It appears to me that this maxim is 
applicable to the medical, as well as to the nautical profession." 

"To all professions," observed Mr. Badger. "It was 
admirably said by Captain Swosser. Beautifully said." 

" People objected to Professor Dingo, when we were staying 
in the North of Devon, after our marriage," said Mrs. Badger, 
"that he disfigured some of the houses and other buildings, 
by chipping off fragments of those edifices with his little 
geological hammer. But the Professor replied, that he knew 
of no building, save the Temple of Science. The principle 
is the same, I think ? " 



A SERIOUS TALK WITH RICHARD. 279 

" Precisely the same,'"' said Mr. Badger. " Finely expressed ! 
The Professor made the same remark, Miss Summerson, in 
his last illness ; when (his mind wandering) he insisted on 
keeping his little hammer under the pillow, and chipping at 
the countenances of the attendants. The ruling passion ! " 

Although we could have dispensed with the length at 
which Mr. and Mrs. Badger pursued the conversation, we both 
felt that it was disinterested in them to express the opinion 
they had communicated to us, and that there was a great 
probability of its being sound. We agreed to say nothing 
to Mr. Jarndyce until we had spoken to Richard ; and, as 
he was coming next evening, we resolved to have a very 
serious talk with him. 

So, after he had been a little while with Ada, I went in 
and found my darling (as I knew she would be) prepared to 
consider him thoroughly right in whatever he said. 

"And how do you get on, Richard?" said I. I always sat 
down on the other side of him. He made quite a sister of me. 

" O ! well enough ! " said Richard. 

" He can't say better than that, Esther, can he ? " cried 
my pet, triumphantly. 

I tried to look at my pet in the wisest manner, but of 
course I couldn't. 

"Well enough?" I repeated. 

"Yes," said Richard, "well enough. It's rather jog- trotty 
and humdrum. But it'll do as well as anything else ! " 

" O ! my dear Richard ! " I remonstrated. 

"What's the matter?" said Richard. 

" Do as well as anything else ! " 

" I don't think there's any harm in that, Dame Durden," 
said Ada, looking so confidingly at me across him ; " because 
if it will do as well as anything else, it will do very well, 
I hope." 

"O yes, I hope so," returned Richard, carelessly tossing 
his hair from his forehead. "After all, it may be only a 
kind of probation till our suit is I forgot though. I am 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

not to mention the suit. Forbidden ground ! O yes, it's all 
right enough. Let us talk about something else." 

Ada would have done so, willingly, and with a full per 
suasion that we had brought he question to a most satis 
factory state. But I thought it would be useless to stop 
there, so I began again. 

" No, but, Richard," said I, " and my dear Ada ! Con 
sider how important it is to you both, and what a point of 
honour it is towards your cousin, that you, Richard, should 
be quite in earnest without any reservation. I think we had 
better talk about this, really, Ada. It will be too late, 
very soon." 

"O yes! We must talk about it!" said Ada. "But I 
think Richard is right." 

What was the use of my trying to look wise, when she was 
so pretty, and so engaging, and so fond of him ! 

" Mr. and Mrs. Badger were here yesterday, Richard," said 
I, "and they seemed disposed to think that you had no 
great liking for the profession." 

"Did they though?" said Richard, "O! Well, that 
rather alters the case, because I had no idea that they thought 
so, and I should not have liked to disappoint or inconvenience 
them. The fact is, I don't care much about it. But O, it 
don't matter ! It'll do as well as anything else ! " 

" You hear him, Ada ! " said I. 

"The fact is," Richard proceeded, half thoughtfully and 
half jocosely, " it is not quite in my way. I don't take to 
it. And I get too much of Mrs. Bay ham Badger's first and 
second." 

" I am sure thafs very natural ! " cried Ada, quite delighted. 
" The very thing we both said yesterday, Esther ! " 

"Then," pursued Richard, "it's monotonous, and to-day is 
too like yesterday, and to-morrow is too like to-day." 

"But I am afraid," said I, "this is an objection to all 
kinds of application to life itself, except under some very 
uncommon circumstances." 



AN ANCHOR WANTED. 281 

"Do you think so?" returned Richard, still considering. 
" Perhaps ! Ha ! Why, then, you know," he added, suddenly 
becoming gay again, " we travel outside a circle, to what I 
said just now. It'll do as well as anything else. O, it's all 
right enough ! Let us talk about something else." 

But, even Ada, with her loving face and if it had seemed 
innocent and trusting, when I first saw it in that memorable 
November fog, how much more did it seem now, when I knew 
her innocent and trusting heart even Ada shook her head 
at this, and looked serious. So I thought it a good oppor 
tunity to hint to Richard, that if he were sometimes a little 
careless of himself, I was very sure he never meant to be 
careless of Ada ; and that it was a part of his affectionate 
consideration for her, not to slight the importance of a step 
that might influence both their lives. This made him almost 
grave. 

"My dear Mother Hubbard," he said, "that's the very 
thing ! I have thought of that, several times ; and have been 
quite angry with myself for meaning to be so much in earnest, 
and somehow not exactly being so. I don't know how it 
is ; I seem to want something or other to stand by. Even 
you have no idea how fond I am of Ada (my darling cousin, 
I love you, so much !), but I don't settle down to constancy 
in other things. It's such uphill work, and it takes such a 
time ! " said Richard, with an air of vexation. 

" That may be," I suggested, " because you don't like what 
you have chosen." 

" Poor fellow ! '*' said Ada. " I am sure I don't wonder 
at it!" 

No. It was not of the least use my trying to look wise. 
I tried again ; but how could I do it, or how could it have 
any effect if I could, while Ada rested her clasped hands upon 
his shoulder, and while he looked at her tender blue eyes, 
and while they looked at him ! 

" You see, my precious girl," said Richard, passing her 
golden curls through and through his hand, " I was a little 



282 BLEAK HOUSE. 

hasty, perhaps ; or I misunderstood my own inclinations, per 
haps. They don't seem to lie in that direction. I couldn't 
tell, till I tried. Now the question is, whether it's worth 
while to undo all that has been done. It seems like making 
a great disturbance about nothing particular." 

" My dear Richard," said I, " how can you say about 
nothing particular ? " 

"I don't mean absolutely that," he returned. "I mean 
that it man ^ )e nothing particular, because I may never 
want it." 

Both Ada and I urged, in reply, not only that it was de 
cidedly worth while to undo what had been done, but that 
it must be undone. I then asked Richard whether he had 
thought of any more congenial pursuit ? 

"There, my dear Mrs. Shipton," said Richard, "you touch 
me home. Yes, I have. I have been thinking that the law 
is the boy for me." 

" The law ! " repeated Ada, as if she were afraid of the name. 

" If I went into Kenge's office," said Richard, " and if I 
were placed under articles to Kenge, I should have my eye 
on the hum ! the forbidden ground and should be able 
to study it, and master it, and to satisfy myself that it was 
not neglected, and was being properly conducted. I should 
be able to look after Ada's interests, and my own interests 
(the same thing !) ; and I should peg away at Blackstone 
and all those fellows with the most tremendous ardour." 

I was not by any means so sure of that ; and I saw how 
his hankering after the vague things yet to come of those 
long-deferred hopes, cast a shade on Ada's face. But I thought 
it best to encourage him in any project of continuous exer 
tion, and only advised him to be quite sure that his mind 
was made up now. 

" My dear Minerva," said Richard, " I am as steady as you 
are. I made a mistake ; we are all liable to mistakes ; I 
won't do so any more, and I'll become such a lawyer as is 
not often seen. That is, you know," said Richard, relapsing 



RICHARD'S ENTHUSIASM FOR THE LAW. 283 

into doubt, " if it really is worth while, after all, to make 
such a disturbance about nothing particular ! " 

This led to our saying again, with a great deal of gravity, 
all that we had said already, and to our coming to much 
the same conclusion afterwards. But, we so strongly advised 
Richard to be frank and open with Mr. Jarndyce, without a 
moment's delay ; and his disposition was naturally so opposed 
to concealment ; that he sought him out at once (taking us 
with him), and made a full avowal. " Rick," said my guardian, 
after hearing him attentively, " we can retreat with honour, 
and we will. But we must be careful for our cousin's 
sake, Rick, for our cousin's sake that we make no more such 
mistakes. Therefore, in the matter of the law, we will have 
a good trial before we decide. We will look before we leap, 
and take plenty of time about it. 11 

Richard^s energy was of such an impatient and fitful kind, 
that he would have liked nothing better than to have gone to 
Mr. Kenge's office in that hour, and to have entered into 
articles with him on the spot. Submitting, however, with a 
good grace to the caution that we had shown to be so 
necessary, he contented himself with sitting down among us 
in his lightest spirits, and talking as if his one unvarying 
purpose in life from childhood had been that one which now 
held possession of him. My guardian was very kind and 
cordial with him, but rather grave ; enough so to cause Ada, 
when he had departed and we were going up-stairs to bed, 
to say : 

" Cousin John, I hope you don't think the worse of Richard ? " 

" No, my love," said he. 

" Because it was very natural that Richard should be mis 
taken in such a difficult case. It is not uncommon."" 

" No, no, my love," said he. " Don't look unhappy." 

" O, I am not unhappy, cousin John ! " said Ada, smiling 
cheerfully, with her hand upon his shoulder, where she had 
put it in bidding him good night. " But I should be a little 
so, if you thought at all the worse of Richard." 



284 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" My dear," said Mr. Jarndyce. " I should think the wor&e 
of him only if you were ever in the least unhappy through 
his means. I should be more disposed to quarrel with myself, 
even then, than with poor Rick, for I brought you together. 
But, tut, all this is nothing ! He has time before him, and 
the race to run. / think the worse of him? Not I, my 
loving cousin ! And not you, I swear ! " 

"No, indeed, cousin John," said Ada, "I am sure I could 
no t I am sure I would not think any ill of Richard, if the 
whole world did. I could, and I would, think better of him 
then, than at any other time ! " 

So quietly and honestly she said it, with her hands upon 
his shoulders both hands now and looking up into his face, 
like the picture of Truth ! 

" I think," said my guardian, thoughtfully regarding her, 
" I think it must be somewhere written that the virtues of 
the mothers shall, occasionally, be visited on the children, as 
well as the sins of the fathers. Good night, my rosebud. 
Good night, little woman. Pleasant slumbers ! Happy 
dreams ! " 

This was the first time I ever saw him follow Ada with 
his eyes, with something of a shadow on their benevolent 
expression. I well remembered the look with which he had 
contemplated her and Richard, when she was singing in the 
fire-light ; it was but a very little while since he had watched 
them passing down the room in which the sun was shining, 
and away into the shade ; but his glance was changed, and 
even the silent look of confidence in me which now followed 
it once more, was not quite so hopeful and untroubled as it 
had originally been. 

Ada praised Richard more to me, that night, than ever 
she had praised him yet. She went to sleep with a little 
bracelet he had given her clasped upon her arm. I fancied 
she was dreaming of him when I kissed her cheek after she 
had slept an hour, and saw how tranquil and happy she 
looked. 



ESTHER AND HER GUARDIAN. 285 

For I was so little inclined to sleep, myself, that night, 
that I sat up working. It would not be worth mentioning 
for its own sake, but I was wakeful and rather low-spirited. 
I don't know why. At least I don't think I know why. At 
least, perhaps I do, but I don't think it matters. 

At any rate, I made up my mind to be so dreadfully 
industrious that I would leave myself not a moment's leisure 
to be low-spirited. For I naturally said, " Esther ! You to 
be low-spirited. You!' 1 '' And it really was time to say so, 
for I yes, I really did see myself in the glass, almost crying. 
"As if you had anything to make you unhappy, instead of 
everything to make you happy, you ungrateful heart ! " said I. 

If I could have made myself go to sleep, I would have 
done it directly ; but, not being able to do that, I took out 
of my basket some ornamental work for our house (I mean 
Bleak House) that I was busy with at that time, and sat 
down to it with great determination. It was necessary to 
count all the stitches in that work, and I resolved to go on 
with it until I couldn't keep my eyes open, and then to go 
to bed. 

I soon found myself very busy. But I had left some silk 
down-stairs in a work-table drawer in the temporary Growlery ; 
and coming to a stop for want of it, I took my candle and 
went softly down to get it. To my great surprise, on 
going in, I found my guardian still there, and sitting looking 
at the ashes. He was lost in thought, his book lay unheeded 
by his side, his silvered iron-grey hair was scattered confusedly 
upon his forehead as though his hand had been wandering 
among it while his thoughts were elsewhere, and his face 
looked woni. Almost frightened . by coming upon him so 
unexpectedly, I stood still for a moment ; and should have 
retired without speaking, had he not, in again passing his 
hand abstractedly through his hair, seen me and started. 

"Esther! 11 

I told him what I had come for. 

" At work so late, my dear ? " 



286 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" I am working late to-night," said I, " because I couldn't 
sleep, and wished to tire myself. But, dear Guardian, you 
are late too, and look weary. You have no trouble, I hope, 
to keep you waking?" 

"None, little woman, that yon would readily understand," 
said he. 

He spoke in a regretful tone so new to me, that I inwardly- 
repeated, as if that would help me to his meaning, "That / 
could readily understand ! " 

"Remain a moment, Esther," said he. "You were in my 
thoughts." 

" I hope I was not the trouble, Guardian ? " 

He slightly waved his hand, and fell into his usual manner. 
The change was so remarkable, and he appeared to make it 
by dint of so much self-command, that I found myself again 
inwardly repeating, " None that / could understand ! " 

"Little woman," said my guardian, "I was thinking that 
is, I have been thinking since I have been sitting here that 
you ought to know, of your own history, all I know. It is 
very little. Next to nothing." 

" Dear Guardian," I replied, " when you spoke to m 
before on that subject " 

"But since then," he gravely interposed, anticipating what 
I meant to say, " I have reflected that your having anything 
to ask me, and my having anything to tell you, are different 
considerations, Esther. It is perhaps my duty to impart to 
you the little I know." 

" If you think so, Guardian, it is right." 

"I think so," he returned, very gently, and kindly, and 
very distinctly. "My dear, I think so now. If any real 
disadvantage can attach to your position, in the mind of any 
man or woman worth a thought, it is right that you, at 
least, of all the world should not magnify it to yourself, by 
having vague impressions of its nature." 

I sat down ; and said, after a little effort to be as calm as 
I ought to be, " One of my earliest remembrances, Guardian, 



ESTHER'S HISTORY. 287 

is of these words: 'Your mother, Esther, is your disgrace, 
and you were hers. The time will come, and soon enough? 
when you will understand this better, and will feel it too, as 
no one save a woman can. 1 " I had covered my face with my 
hands, in repeating the words; but I took them away now 
with a better kind of shame, I hope, and told him, that to 
him I owed the blessing that I had from my childhood to 
that hour never, never, never felt it. He put up his hand as 
if to stop me. I well knew that he was never to be thanked, 
and said no more. 

"Nine years, my dear, 11 he said, after thinking for a little 
while, "have passed since I received a letter from a lady 
living in seclusion, written with a stern passion and power 
that rendered it unlike all other letters I have ever read. It 
i was written to me (as it told me in so many words), perhaps, 
because it was the writer's idiosyncrasy to put that trust in 
me : perhaps, because it was mine to justify it. It told me 
of a child, an orphan girl then twelve years old, in some such 
cruel words as those which live in your remembrance. It told 
me that the writer had bred her in secrecy from her birth, 
had blotted out all trace of her existence, and that if the 
writer were to die before the child became a woman, she 
would be left entirely friendless, nameless, and unknown. It 
asked me, to consider if I would, in that case, finish what 
the writer had begun ? " 

I listened in silence, and looked attentively at him. 

"Your early recollection, my dear, will supply the gloomy 
medium through which all this was seen and expressed by the 
writer, and the distorted religion which clouded her mind 
with impressions of the need there was for the child to expiate 
an offence of which she was quite innocent. I felt concerned 
for the little creature, in her darkened life; and replied to 
the letter/ 1 

I took his hand and kissed it. 

" It laid the injunction on me that I should never propose 
to see the writer, who had long been estranged from all 



288 BLEAK HOUSE. 

intercourse with the world, but who would see a confidential 
agent if I would appoint one. I accredited Mr. Kenge. 
The lady said, of her own accord, and not of his seeking, 
that her name was an assumed one. That she was, if there 
were any ties of blood in such a case, the child's aunt. That 
more than this she would never (and he was well persuaded 
of the steadfastness of her resolution), for any human 
consideration, disclose. My dear, I have told you all." 

I held his hand for a little while in mine. 

"I saw my ward oftener than she saw me," he added, 
cheerily making light of it, "and I always knew she was 
beloved, useful, and happy. She repays me twenty-thousand 
fold, and twenty more to that, every hour in every day ! " 

" And oftener still," said I, " she blesses the Guardian who 
is a Father to her ! " 

At the word Father, I saw his former trouble come into 
his face. He subdued it as before, and it was gone in an 
instant; but, it had been there, and it had come so swiftly 
upon my words that I felt as if they had given him a shock. 
I again inwardly repeated, wondering, "That / could readily 
understand. None that / could readily understand ! " No, 
it was true. I did not understand it. Not for many and 
many a day. 

" Take a fatherly good night, my dear," said he, kissing 
me on the forehead, "and so to rest. These are late hours 
for working and thinking. You do that for all of us, all 
day long, little housekeeper ! " 

I neither worked nor thought, any more, that night. I 
opened my grateful heart to Heaven in thankfulness for its 
Providence to me and its care of me, and fell asleep. 

We had a visitor next day. Mr. Allan Woodcourt came. 
He came to take leave of us; he had settled to do so 
beforehand. He was going to China, and to India, as a 
surgeon on board ship. He was to be away a long, long 
time. 

I believe at least I know that he was not rich. All his 



MR. WOODCOURT AND HIS MOTHER. 289 

widowed mother could spare had been spent in qualifying 
him for his profession. It was not lucrative to a young 
practitioner, with very little influence in London; and 
although he was, night and day, at the service of numbers 
of poor people, and did wonders of gentleness and skill for 
them, he gained very little by it in money. He was seven 
years older than I. Not that I need mention it, for it 
/ hardly seems to belong to anything. 

I think I mean, he told us that he had been in practice 
three or four years, and that if he could have hoped to 
contend through three or four more, he would not have 
made the voyage on which he was bound. But he had no 
fortune or private means, and so he was going away. He 
had been to see us several times altogether. We thought 
it a pity he should go away. Because he was distinguished 
in his art among those who knew it best, and some of the 
greatest men belonging to it had a high opinion of him. 

When he came to bid us good-bye, he brought his mother 
with him for the first time. She was a pretty old lady, with 
bright black eyes, but she seemed proud. She came from 
Wales; and had had, a long time ago, an eminent person 
for an ancestor, of the name of Morgan ap-Kerrig of some 
place that sounded like Gimlet who was the most illustrious 
person that ever was known, and all of whose relations were 
a sort of Royal Family. He appeared to have passed his 
life in always getting up into mountains, and fighting some 
body ; and a Bard whose name sounded like Crumlinwallinwer 
had sung his praises, in a piece which was called, as nearly 
as I could catch it, Mewlinnwillinwodd. 

Mrs. Wood court, after expatiating to us on the fame of her 
great kinsman, said that, no doubt, wherever her son Allan 
went, he would remember his pedigree, and would on no 
account form an alliance below it. She told him that there 
were many handsome English ladies in India who went out 
on speculation, and that there were some to be picked up 
with property; but, that neither charms nor wealth would 

VOL. i. u 



290 BLEAK HOUSE. 

suffice for the descendant from such a line, without birth: 
which must ever be the first consideration. She talked so 
much about birth, that, for a moment, I half fancied, and 
with pain but, what an idle fancy to suppose that she could 
think or care what miiw was ! 

Mr. Woodcourt seemed a little distressed by her prolixity, 
but he was too considerate to let her see it, and contrived 
delicately to bring the conversation round to making his 
acknowledgments to my guardian for his hospitality, and 
for the very happy hours he called them the very happy 
hour she had passed with us. The recollection of them, he 
said, would go with him wherever he went, and would be 
always treasured. And so we gave him our hands, one after 
another at least, they did and I did ; and so he put his 
lips to Ada's hand and to mine; and so he went away 
upon his long, long voyage ! 

I was very busy indeed, all day, and wrote directions home 
to the servants, and wrote notes for my guardian, and dusted 
his books and papers, and jingled my housekeeping keys a 
good deal, one way and another. I was still busy between 
the lights, singing and working by the window, when who 
should come in but Caddy, whom I had no expectation of 
seeing ! 

" Why, Caddy, my dear," said I, " what beautiful flowers ! " 

She had such an exquisite little nosegay in her hand. 

"Indeed, I think so, Esther," replied Caddy. "They are 
the loveliest I ever saw." 

" Prince, my dear ? " said I, in a whisper. 

"No," answered Caddy, shaking her head, and holding 
them to me to smell. "Not Prince." 

"Well, to be sure, Caddy!" said I. "You must have 
two lovers ! " 

"What? Do they look like that sort of thing?" said 
Caddy. 

"Do they look like that sort of thing?" I repeated, 
pinching her cheek. 



. 




A NOSEGAY FROM SOMEBODY. 291 

Caddy only laughed in return; and telling me that she 
had come for half-an-hour, at the expiration of which time 
Prince would be waiting for her at the corner, sat chatting 
with me and Ada in the window : every now and then, hand 
ing me the flowers again, or trying how they looked against 
my hair. At last, when she was going, she took me into 
my room, and put them in my dress. 

"For me?" said I, surprised. 

"For you," said Caddy, with a kiss. "They were left 
behind by Somebody." 

"Left behind?" 

" At poor Miss Elite's," said Caddy. " Somebody who has 
been very good to her, was hurrying away an hour ago, to 
join a ship, and left these flowers behind. No, no ! Don't 
take them out. Let the pretty little things lie here ! " said 
Caddy, adjusting them with a careful hand, "because I was 
present myself, and I shouldn't wonder if Somebody left 
them on purpose ! " 

" Do they look like that sort of thing ? " said Ada, coming 
laughingly behind me, and clasping me merrily round the 
waist. " O, yes, indeed they do, Dame Durden ! They look 
very, very like that sort of thing. O, very like it indeed, 
my dear ! " 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

LADY DEBLOCK. 

IT was not so easy as it had appeared at first, to arrange 
for Richard's making a trial of Mr. Kenge's office. Richard 
himself was the chief impediment. As soon as he had it in 
his power to leave Mr. Badger at any moment, he began to 
doubt whether he wanted to leave him at all. He didn't 
know, he said, really. It wasn't a bad profession ; he 
couldn't assert that he disliked it; perhaps he liked it as 
well as he liked any other suppose he gave it one more 
chance ! Upon that, he shut himself up, for a few weeks, 
with some books and some bones, and seemed to acquire 
a considerable fund of information with great rapidity. 
His fervour, after lasting about a month, began to cool ; 
and when it was quite cooled, began to grow warm again. 
His vacillations between law and medicine lasted so long, 
that Midsummer arrived before he finally separated from 
Mr. Badger, and entered on an experimental course of 
Messrs. Kenge and Carboy. For all his waywardness, he 
took great credit to himself as being determined to be in 
earnest "this time."" And he was so good-natured through 
out, and in such high spirits, and so fond of Ada, that it 
was very difficult indeed to be otherwise than pleased with 
him. 

"As to Mr. Jarndyce," who, I may mention, found the 
wind much given, during this period, to stick in the east ; 



RICHARD'S WAY OF MAKING MONEY. 293 

"As to Mr. Jarndyce," Richard would say to me, "he is the 
finest fellow in the world, Esther! I must be particularly 
careful, if it were only for his satisfaction, to take myself 
well to task, and have a regular wind-up of this business 
new." 

The idea of his taking himself well to task, with that 
laughing face and heedless manner, and with a fancy that 
everything could catch and nothing could hold, was ludicrously 
anomalous. However, he told us between-whiles, that he was 
doing it to such an extent, that he wondered his hair didn't 
turn grey. His regular wind-up of the business was (as I 
have said), that he went to Mr. Kenge's about Midsummer, 
to try how he liked it. 

All this time he was, in money affairs, what I have 
described him in a former illustration : generous, profuse, 
wildly careless, but fully persuaded that he was rather 
calculating and prudent. I happened to say to Ada, in his 
presence, half-jestingly, half-seriously, about the time of his 
going to Mr. Kenge*s, that he needed to have Fortunatus's 
purse, he made so light of money, which he answered in this 
way : 

" My jewel of a dear cousin, you hear this old woman ! 
Why does she say that ? Because I gave eight pounds odd 
(or whatever it was) for a certain neat waistcoat and buttons 
a few days ago. Now, if I had stayed at Badger's I should 
have been obliged to spend twelve pounds at a blow, for 
some heart-breaking lecture-fees. So I make four pounds in 
a lump by the transaction ! " 

It was a question much discussed between him and my 
guardian what arrangements should be made for his living in 
London, while he experimented on the law ; for, we had long 
since gone back to Bleak House, and it was too far off to 
admit of his coming there oftener than once a week. My 
guardian told me that if Richard were to settle down at Mr. 
Kenge's he would take some apartments or chambers, where 
we, too, could occasionally stay for a few days at a time; 



294 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" but, little woman,*" he added, rubbing his head very signifi 
cantly, " he hasn't settled down there yet ! " The discussions 
ended in our hiring for him, by the month, a neat little 
furnished lodging in a quiet old house near Queen Square. 
He immediately began to spend all the money he had, in 
buying the oddest little ornaments and luxuries for this 
lodging; and so often as Ada and I dissuaded him from 
making any purchase that he had in contemplation which was 
particularly unnecessary and expensive, he took credit for what 
it would have cost, and made out that to spend anything less 
on something else was to save the difference. 

While these affairs were in abeyance, our visit to Mr. 
Boy thorn's was postponed. At length, Richard having taken 
possession of his lodging, there was nothing to prevent our 
departure. He could have gone with us at that time of the 
year, very well ; but he was in the full novelty of his new 
position, and was making most energetic attempts to unravel 
the mysteries of the fatal suit. Consequently we went with 
out him ; and my darling was delighted to praise him for 
being so busy. 

We made a pleasant journey down into Lincolnshire by 
the coach, and had an entertaining companion in Mr. Skim- 
pole. His furniture had been all cleared off, it appeared, 
by the person who took possession of it on his blue-eyed 
daughter's birthday; but, he seemed quite relieved to think 
that it was gone. Chairs and tables, he said, were wearisome 
objects; they were monotonous ideas, they had no variety of 
expression, they looked you out of countenance, and you 
looked them out of countenance. How pleasant, then, to be 
bound to no particular chairs and tables, but to sport like a 
butterfly among all the furniture on hire, and to flit from 
rosewood to mahogany, and from mahogany to walnut, and 
from this shape to that, as the humour took one ! 

"The oddity of the thing is," said Mr. Skimpole, with a 
quickened sense of the ludicrous, " that my chairs and tables 
were not paid for, and yet my landlord walks off with them 



DEFECTIVE REASONING! 295 

as composedly as possible. Now, that seems droll ! There is 
something grotesque in it. The chair and table merchant 
never engaged to pay my landlord my rent. Why should my 
landlord quarrel with him ? If I have a pimple on my nose 
which is disagreeable to my landlord's peculiar ideas of beauty, 
my landlord has no business to scratch my chair and table 
merchant's nose, which has no pimple on it. His reasoning 
seems defective ! " 

" Well," said my guardian, good-humouredly, " it's pretty 
clear that whoever became security for those chairs and tables 
will have to pay for them." 

" Exactly ! " returned Mr. Skimpole. " That's the crowning 
point of unreason in the business ! I said to my landlord, 
'My good man, you are not aware that my excellent friend 
Jarndyce will have to pay for those things that you are 
sweeping off in that indelicate manner. Have you no con 
sideration for his property?' He hadn't the least." 

" And refused all proposals," said my guardian. 

"Refused all proposals," returned Mr. Skimpole. "I made 
him business proposals. I had him into my room. I said, 
' You are a man of business, I believe ? ' He replied, ' I am.' 
'Very well,' said I, 'now let us be business-like. Here is an 
inkstand, here are pens and paper, here are wafers. What do 
you want? I have occupied your house for a considerable 
period, I believe to our mutual satisfaction until this un 
pleasant misunderstanding arose ; let us be at once friendly 
and business-like. What do you want?' In reply to this, 
he made use of the figurative expression which has something 
Eastern about it that he had never seen the colour of my 
money. ' My amiable friend,' said I, ' I never have any 
money. I never know anything about money.' 'WeU, sir,' 
said he, ' what do you offer if I give you time ? ' ' My good 
fellow,' said I, ' I have no idea of time ; but, you say you are 
a man of business, and whatever you can suggest to be done in 
a business-like way with pen, and ink, and paper and wafers 
I am ready to do. Don't pay yourself at another man's 



296 BLEAK HOUSE. 

expense (which is foolish), but be business-like ! ' However, 
he wouldn't be, and there was an end of it. 11 

If these were some of the inconveniences of Mr. Skimpole's 
childhood, it assuredly possessed its advantages too. On the 
journey he had a very good appetite for such refreshment as 
came in our way (including a basket of choice hot-house 
peaches), but never thought of paying for anything. So 
when the coachman came round for his fee, he pleasantly 
asked him what he considered a very good fee indeed, now 
a liberal one and, on his replying, half-a-crown for a single 
passenger, said it was little enough too, all things considered ; 
and left Mr. Jarndyce to give it him. 

It was delightful weather. The green corn waved so 
beautifully, the larks sang so joyfully, the hedges were so full 
of wild flowers, the trees were so thickly out in leaf, the 
bean-fields, with a light wind blowing over them, filled the 
air with such a delicious fragrance ! Late in the afternoon we 
came to the market-town where we were to alight from the 
coach a dull little town, with a church-spire, and a market 
place, and a market-cross, and one intensely sunny street, and 
a pond with an old horse cooling his legs in it, and a very 
few men sleepily lying and standing about in narrow little 
bits of shade. After the rustling of the leaves and the 
waving of the corn all along the road, it looked as still, as 
hot, as motionless a little town as England could produce. 

At the inn, we found Mr. Boythorn on horseback, waiting 
with an open carriage, to take us to his house, which was a 
few miles off. He was overjoyed to see us, and dismounted 
with great alacrity. 

"By Heaven !" said he, after giving us a courteous greet 
ing, "this is a most infamous coach. It is the most flagrant 
example of an abominable public vehicle that ever encumbered 
the face of the earth. It is twenty-five minutes after its time, 
this afternoon. The coachman ought to be put to death ! " 

"Is he after his time?" said Mr. Skimpole, to whom lie 
happened to address himself. " You know my infirmity." 



\ 



CONCERNING SIR ARROGANT NUMSKULL. 297 

"Twenty-five minutes! Twenty-six minutes! 1 ' replied Mr. 
Boy thorn, referring to his watch. "With two ladies in the 
coach, this scoundrel has deliberately delayed his arrival six- 
and-twenty minutes. Deliberately ! It is impossible that it 
can be accidental ! But his father and his uncle were the 
most profligate coachmen that ever sat upon, a box." 

While he said this in tones of the^ greatest indignation, he 
handed us into the little phaeton with the utmost gentleness, 
and was all smiles and pleasure.. 

" I am sorry, ladies," he said, standing bare-headed at the 
carriage-door, when all was ready, "that I am obliged to 
conduct you nearly two miles out of the way. But, our 
direct road lies through Sir Leicester Dedlock's park; and, 
in that fellow's property, I have sworn never to set foot of 
mine, or horse's foot of mine, pending the present relations 
between us, while I breathe the breath of life ! " And here, 
catching my guardian's eye, he broke into one of his 
tremendous laughs, which seemed to shake even the motion 
less little market-town. 

" Are the Dedlocks down here, Lawrence ? " said my 
guardian as we drove along, and Mr. Boythorn trotted on 
the green turf by the roadside. 

"Sir Arrogant Numskull is here," replied Mr. Boythorn. 
"Ha ha ha! Sir Arrogant is here, and I am glad to say, 
has been laid by the heels here. My Lady," in naming whom 
he always made a courtly gesture as if particularly to exclude 
her from any part in the quarrel, " is expected, I believe, 
daily. I am not in the least surprised that she postpones her 
appearance as long as possible. Whatever can have induced 
that transcendent woman to marry that effigy and figure-head 
of a baronet, is one of the most impenetrable mysteries that 
ever baffled human inquiry. Ha ha ha ha ! " 

" I suppose," said my guardian laughing, " we may set foot 
in the park while we are here? The prohibition does not 
extend to us, does it?" 

" I can lay no prohibition on my guests," he said, bending 



298 BLEAK HOUSE. 

his head to Ada and me, with the smiling politeness which 
sat so gracefully upon him, "except in the matter of their 
departure. I am only sorry that I cannot have the happiness 
of being their escort about Chesney Wold, which is a very 
fine place ! But, by the light of this summer day, Jarndyce, 
if you call upon the owner, while you stay with me, you are 
likely to have but a cool reception. He carries himself like 
an eight-day clock at all times ; like one of a race of eight- 
day clocks in gorgeous cases that never go and never went 
Ha ha ha ! but he will have some extra stiffness, I 
can promise you, for the friends of his friend and neighbour, 
Boy thorn ! " 

"I shall not put him to the proof," said my guardian. 
" He is as indifferent to the honour of knowing me, I dare 
say, as I am to the honour of knowing him. The air of tUe 
grounds, and perhaps such a view of the house as any other 
sight-seer might get, are quite enough for me." 

"Well!" said Mr. Boy thorn, "I am glad of it on the 
whole. Ifs in better keeping. I am looked upon, about 
here, as a second Ajax defying the lightning. Ha ha ha ha ! 
When I go into our little church on a Sunday, a considerable 
part of the inconsiderable congregation expect to see me drop, 
scorched and withered, on the pavement under the Dedlock 
displeasure. Ha ha ha ha ! I have no doubt he is surprised 
that I don^t. For he is, by Heaven ! the most self-satisfied, 
and the shallowest, and the most coxcombical and utterly 
brainless ass ! " 

Our coming to the ridge of a hill we had been ascending, 
enabled our friend to point out Chesney Wold itself to us, 
and diverted his attention from its master. 

It was a picturesque old house, in a fine park richly 
wooded. Among the trees, and not far from the residence, 
he pointed out the spire of the little church of which he had 
spoken. O, the solemn woods over which the light and 
shadow travelled swiftly, as if Heavenly wings were sweeping 
on benignant errands through the summer air; the smooth 



THE DEBLOCK ARMS. 299 

green slopes, the glittering water, the garden where the 
flowers were so symmetrically arranged in clusters of the 
richest colours, how beautiful they looked ! The house, with 
gable and chimney, and tower, and turret, and dark doorway, 
and broad terrace-walk, twining among the balustrades of 
which, and lying heaped upon the vases, there was one great 
flush of roses, seemed scarcely real in its light solidity, and 
in the serene and peaceful hush that rested on all around it. 
To Ada and to me, that, above all, appeared the pervading 
influence. On everything, house, garden, terrace, green slopes, 
water, old oaks, fern, moss, woods again, and far away across 
the openings in the prospect, to the distance lying wide before 
us with a purple bloom upon it, there seemed to be such 
undisturbed repose. 

When we came into the little village, and passed a small 
inn with the sign of the Dedlock Arms swinging over the 
road in front, Mr. Boythorn interchanged greetings with a 
young gentleman sitting on a bench outside the inn-door, 
who had some fishing-tackle lying beside him. 

"That's the housekeeper's grandson, Mr. Rouncewell by 
name,"" said he; "and he is in love with a pretty girl up at 
the House. Lady Dedlock has taken a fancy to the pretty 
girl, and is going to keep her about her own fair person 
an honour which my young friend himself does not at all 
appreciate. However, he can't marry just yet, even if his 
Rosebud were willing; so he is fain to make the best of it. 
In the meanwhile, he comes here pretty often, for a day or 
two at a time, to fish. Ha ha ha ha ! " 

"Are he and the pretty girl engaged, Mr. Boythorn?" 
asked Ada. 

" Why, my dear Miss Clare," he returned, " I think they 
may perhaps understand each other; but you will see them 
soon, I dare say, and I must learn from you on such a point 
not you from me." 

Ada blushed ; and Mr. Boythorn, trotting forward on his 
comely grey horse, dismounted at his own door, and stood 



300 BLEAK HOUSE. 

ready, with extended arm and uncovered head, to welcome 
us when we arrived. 

He lived in a pretty house, formerly the Parsonage-house, 
with a lawn in front, a bright flower-garden at the side, and 
a well-stocked orchard and kitchen-garden in the rear, enclosed 
with a venerable wall that had of itself a ripened ruddy look. 
But, indeed, everything about the place wore an aspect of 
maturity and abundance. The old lime-tree walk was like 
green cloisters, the very shadows of the cherry-trees and apple- 
trees were heavy with fruit, the gooseberry-bushes were so 
laden that their branches arched and rested on the earth, 
the strawberries and raspberries grew in like profusion, and 
the peaches basked by the hundred on the wall. Tumbled 
about among the spread nets and the glass frames sparkling 
and winking in the sun, there were such heaps of drooping 
pods, and marrows, and cucumbers, that every foot of ground 
appeared a vegetable treasury, while the smell of sweet herbs 
and all kinds of wholesome growth (to say nothing of the 
neighbouring meadows where the hay was carrying) made the 
whole air a great nosegay. Such stillness and composure 
reigned within the orderly precincts of the old red wall, that 
even the feathers hung in garlands to scare the birds hardly 
stirred ; and the wall had such a ripening influence that where, 
here and there high up, a disused nail and scrap of list still 
clung to it, it was easy to fancy that they had mellowed with 
the changing seasons, and that they had rusted and decayed 
according to the common fate. 

The house, though a little disorderly in comparison with the 
garden, was a real old house, with settles in the chimney of 
the brick-floored kitchen, and great beams across the ceilings. 
On one side of it was the terrible piece of ground in dispute, 
where Mr. Boy thorn maintained a sentry in a smock-frock, 
day and night, whose duty was supposed to be, in cases of 
aggression, immediately to ring a large bell hung up there 
for the purpose, to unchain a great bull-dog established in a 
kennel as his ally, and generally to deal destruction on the 



MR. BOYTHORjyS EARNESTNESS. 301 

enemy. Not content with these precautions, Mr. Boythorn 
had himself composed and posted there, on painted boards 
to which his name was attached in large letters, the following 
solemn warnings : " Beware of the Bull-dog. He is most 
ferocious. Lawrence Boythorn." " The blunderbuss is loaded 
with slugs. Lawrence Boythorn." " Man-traps and spring- 
guns are set here at all times of the day and night. Lawrence 
Boythorn." "Take notice. That any person or persons 
audaciously presuming to trespass on this property, will be 
punished with the utmost severity of private chastisement, 
and prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. Lawrence 
Boythorn." These he showed us, from the drawing-room 
window, while his bird was hopping about his head; and he 
laughed, " Ha ha ha ha ! Ha ha ha ha ! " to that extent as 
he pointed them out, that I really thought he would have 
hurt himself. 

"But this is taking a good deal of trouble," said Mr. 
Skimpole in his light way, " when you are not in earnest 
after all?" 

" Not in earnest ! " returned Mr. Boythorn, with unspeakable 
warmth. " Not in earnest ! If I could have hoped to train 
him, I would have bought a Lion instead of that dog, and 
would have turned him loose upon the first intolerable robber 
who should dare to make an encroachment on my rights. 
Let Sir Leicester Dedlock consent to come out and decide 
this question by single combat, and I will meet him with 
any weapon known to mankind in any age or country. I 
am that much in earnest. Not more ! " 

We arrived at his house on a Saturday. On the Sunday 
morning we all set forth to walk to the little church in the 
park. Entering the park, almost immediately by the disputed 
ground, we pursued a pleasant footpath winding among the 
verdant turf and the beautiful trees, until it brought us to 
the church-porch. 

The congregation was extremely small and quite a rustic 
one, with the exception of a large muster of servants from 



302 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the House, some of whom were already in their seats, while 
others were yet dropping in. There were some stately 
footmen ; and there was a perfect picture of an old coachman, 
who looked as if he were the official representative of all the 
pomps and vanities that had ever been put into his coach. 
There was a very pretty show of young women ; and above 
them, the handsome old face and fine responsible portly 
figure of the housekeeper, towered pre-eminent. The pretty 
girl, of whom Mr. Boy thorn had told us, was close by her. 
She was so very pretty, that I might have known her by her 
beauty, even if I had not seen how blushingly conscious she 
was of the eyes of the young fisherman, whom I discovered 
not far off. One face, and not an agreeable one, though it 
was handsome, seemed maliciously watchful of this pretty girl, 
and indeed of every one and everything there. It was a 
Frenchwoman's. 

As the bell was yet ringing and the great people were not 
yet come, I had leisure to glance over the church, which 
smelt as earthy as a grave, and to think what a shady, 
ancient, solemn little church it was. The windows, heavily 
shaded by trees, admitted a subdued light that made the 
faces around me pale, and darkened the old brasses in the 
pavement, and the time and damp-worn monuments, and 
rendered the sunshine in the little porch, where a monotonous 
ringer was working at the bell, inestimably bright. But a 
stir in that direction, a gathering of reverential awe in the 
rustic faces, and a blandly-ferocious assumption on the part 
of Mr. Boythorn of being resolutely unconscious of somebody's 
existence, forewarned me that the great people were come, and 
that the service was going to begin. 

"'Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for 
in thy sight "' 

Shall I ever forget the rapid beating at my heart, occasioned 
by the look I met, as I stood up ! Shall I ever forget the 
manner in which those handsome proud eyes seemed to spring 
out of their languor, and to hold mine! It was only a 




f-f 










, 



STRANGE ASSOCIATIONS. 303 

moment before I cast mine clown released again, if I may 
say so on my book ; but, I knew the beautiful face quite 
well, in that short space of time. 

And, very strangely, there was something quickened within / 
me, associated with the lonely days at my godmother's ; yes, 
away even to the days when I had stood on tiptoe to dress 
myself at my little glass, after dressing my doll. And this, 
although I had never seen this lady's face before in all my 
life I was quite sure of it absolutely certain. 

It was easy to know that the ceremonious, gouty, grey- 
haired gentleman, the only other occupant of the great pew, 
was Sir Leicester Dedlock ; and that the lady was Lady 
Dedlock. But why her face should be, in a confused way, 
like a broken glass to me, in which I saw scraps of old 
remembrances ; and why I should be so fluttered and troubled 
(for I was still), by having casually met her eyes ; I could not 
think. 

I felt it to be an unmeaning weakness in me, and tried to 
overcome it by attending to the words I heard. Then, 
very strangely, I seemed to hear them, not in the reader's 
voice, but in the well-remembered voice of my godmother. 
This made me think, did Lady Dedlock's~~jface accidentally 
resemble my godmother's ? It might be that it did, a little ; 
but, the expression was so different, and the stern decision 
which had worn into my godmother's face, like weather into 
rocks, was so completely wanting in the face before me, that 
it could not be that resemblance which had struck me. 
Neither did I know the loftiness and haughtiness of Lady 
Dedlock's face, at all, in any one. And yet / /, little 
Esther Summerson, the child who lived a life apart, and on 
whose birthday there was no rejoicing seemed to arise before 
my own eyes, evoked out of the past by some power in this 
fashionable lady, whom I not only entertained no fancy that 
I had ever seen, but whom I perfectly well knew I had never 
seen until that hour. 

It made me tremble so, to be thrown into this unaccountable 



304 BLEAK HOUSE. 

agitation, that I was conscious of being distressed even by 
the observation of the French maid, though I knew she had 
been looking watchfully here, and there, and everywhere, 
from the moment of her coming into the church. By 
degrees, though very slowly, I at last overcame my strange 
emotion. After a long time, I looked towards Lady Dedlock 
again. It was while they were preparing to sing, before the 
sermon. She took no heed of me, and the beating at my 
heart was gone. Neither did it revive for more than a 
few moments, when she once or twice afterwards glanced at 
Ada or at me through her glass. 

The service being concluded, Sir Leicester gave his arm 
with much taste and gallantry to Lady Dedlock though he 
was obliged to walk by the help of a thick stick and escorted 
her out of church to the pony carriage in which they had 
come. The servants then dispersed, and so did the congre 
gation ; whom Sir Leicester had contemplated all along (Mr. 
Skimpole said to Mr. Boythorn's infinite delight), as if he 
were a considerable landed proprietor in Heaven. 

" He believes he is ! " said Mr. Boythorn. " He firmly 
believes it. So did his father, and his grandfather, and his 
great-grandfather ! " 

"Do you know," pursued Mr. Skimpole, very unexpectedly, 
to Mr. Boythorn, " it's agreeable to me to see a man of that 
sort." 

" Is it ! " said Mr. Boythorn. 

" Say that he wants to patronise me," pursued Mr. Skimpole. 
"Very well ! I don't object." 

" / do," said Mr. Boythorn, with great vigour. 

" Do you really ? " returned Mr. Skimpole, in his easy light 
vein. "But, that's taking trouble, surely. And why should 
you take trouble? Here am I, content to receive things 
childishly, as they fall out : and I never take trouble ! I 
come down here, for instance, and I find a mighty potentate, 
exacting homage. Very well ! I say, ' Mighty potentate, here 
is my homage! It's easier to give it, than to withhold it. 



AS THE POLES ASUNDER. 305 

Here it is. If you have anything of an agreeable nature 
to show me, I shall be happy to see it ; if you have any 
thing of an agreeable nature to give me, I shall be happy 
to accept it. 1 Mighty potentate replies in effect, 'This is a 
sensible fellow. I find him accord with my digestion and my 
bilious system. He doesn't impose upon me the necessity of 
rolling myself up like a hedgehog with my points outward. 
I expand, I open, I turn my silver lining outward like Milton's 
cloud, and it's more agreeable to both of us/ That's my 
view of such things : speaking as a child ! " 

" But suppose you went down somewhere else to-morrow,"" 
said Mr. Boy thorn, " where there was the opposite of that 
fellow or of this fellow How then?" 

" How then ? " said Mr. Skimpole, with an appearance of 
the utmost simplicity and candour. " Just the same then ! I 
should say, ' My esteemed Boythorn ' to make you the 
personification of our imaginary friend ' my esteemed Boy- 
thorn, you object to the mighty potentate ? Very good. So 
do I. I take it that my business in the social system is to be 
agreeable ; I take it that everybody's business in the social 
system is to be agreeable. It's a system of harmony, in 
short. Therefore if you object, I object. Now, excellent 
Boythorn, let us go to dinner ! ' ' 

"But excellent Boythorn might say," returned our host, 
swelling and growing very red, "I'll be " 

"I understand," said Mr. Skimpole. "Very likely he 
would." 

" if I will go to dinner ! " cried Mr. Boythorn, in a 

violent burst, and stopping to strike his stick upon the 
ground. "And he would probably add, 'Is there such a 
thing as principle, Mr. Harold Skimpole ? ' r 

" To which Harold Skimpole would reply, you know," he 
returned in his gayest manner, and with his most ingenious 
smile, "'Upon my life I have not the least idea! I don't 
know what it is you call by that name, or where it is, or 
who possesses it. If you possess it, and find it comfortable, 

VOL. i. x 



306 BLEAK HOUSE. 

I am quite delighted, and congratulate you heartily. But I 
know nothing about it, I assure you ; for I am a mere child, 
and I lay no claim to it, and I don't want it ! * So, you see, 
excellent Boythorn and I would go to dinner after all ! " 

This was one of many little dialogues between them, which 
I always expected to end, and which I dare say would have 
ended under other circumstances, in some violent explosion 
on the part of our host. But he had so high a sense of his 
hospitable and responsible position as our entertainer, and my 
guardian laughed so sincerely at and with Mr. Skimpole, as 
a child who blew bubbles and broke them all day long, that 
matters never went beyond this point. Mr. Skimpole, who 
always seemed quite unconscious of having been on delicate 
ground, then betook himself to beginning some sketch in the 
park which he never finished, or to playing fragments of airs 
on the piano, or to singing scraps of songs, or to lying down 
on his back under a tree, and looking at the sky which he 
couldn't help thinking, he said, was what he was meant for; 
it suited him so exactly. 

"Enterprise and effort,"" he would say to us (on his back), 
"are delightful to me. I believe I am truly cosmopolitan. 
I have the deepest sympathy with them. I lie in a shady 
place like this, and think of adventurous spirits going to the 
North Pole, or penetrating to the heart of the Torrid Zone, 
with admiration. Mercenary creatures ask, ' What is the use 
of a man's going to the North Pole ! What good does it 
do ? ' I can't say ; but, for anything I can say, he may go 
for the purpose though he don't know it of employing my 
thoughts as I lie here. Take an extreme case. Take the 
case of the Slaves on American plantations. I dare say they 
are worked hard, I dare say they don't altogether like it, I 
dare say theirs is an unpleasant experience on the whole; 
but, they people the landscape for me, they give it a poetry 
for me, and perhaps that is one of the pleasanter objects of 
their existence. I am very sensible of it, if it be, and I 
shouldn't wonder if it were ! " 






A SUDDEN STORM. 307 

I always wondered on these occasions whether he ever thought 
/ of Mrs. Skimpole and the children, and in what point of view 
\ they presented themselves to his cosmopolitan mind. So far 
\ as I could understand, they rarely presented themselves at all. 
The week had gone round to the Saturday following that 
beating of my heart in the church ; and every day had been 
so bright and blue, that to ramble in the woods, and to see 
the light striking down among the transparent leaves, and 
sparkling in the beautiful interlacings of the shadows of the 
trees, while the birds poured out their songs, and the air was 
drowsy with the hum of insects, had been most delightful. We 
had one favourite spot, deep in moss and last year's leaves, 
where there were some felled trees from which the bark was all 
stripped off. Seated among these, we looked through a green 
vista supported by thousands of natural columns, the whitened 
stems of trees, upon a distant prospect made so radiant by 
its contrast with the shade in which we sat, and made so 
precious by the arched perspective through which we saw it, 
that it was like a glimpse of the better land. Upon the 
Saturday we sat here, Mr. Jarndyce, Ada, and I, until we 
heard thunder muttering in the distance, and felt the large 
rain-drops rattle through the leaves. 

The weather had been all the week extremely sultry ; but, 
the storm broke so suddenly upon us, at least, in that 
sheltered spot that before we reached the outskirts of the 
wood, the thunder and lightning were frequent, and the rain 
came plunging through the leaves, as if every drop were a 
great leaden bead. As it was not a time for standing among 
trees, we ran out of the wood, and up and down the moss- 
grown steps which crossed the plantation-fence like two broad- 
staved ladders placed back to back, and made for a keeper's 
lodge which was close at hand. We had often noticed the 
dark beauty of this lodge standing in a deep twilight of trees, 
and how the ivy clustered over it, and how there was a steep 
hollow near, where we had once seen the keeper's dog dive 
down into the fern as if it were water. 



308 BLEAK HOUSE. 

The lodge was so dark within, now the sky was over 
cast, that we only clearly saw the man who came to the door 
when we took shelter there, and put two chairs for Ada and 
me. The lattice-windows were all thrown open, and we sat, 
just within the doorway, watching the storm. It was grand 
to see how the wind awoke, and bent the trees, and drove 
the rain before it like a cloud of smoke; and to hear the 
solemn thunder, and to see the lightning ; and while thinking 
with awe of the tremendous powers by which our little lives 
are encompassed, to consider how beneficent they are, and 
how upon the smallest flower and leaf there was already a 
freshness poured from all this seeming rage, which seemed to 
make creation new again. 

" Is it not dangerous to sit in so exposed a place ? " 

"O no, Esther dear! 11 said Ada, quietly. 

Ada said it to me ; but, / had not spoken. 

The beating of my heart came back again. I had never 
heard the voice, as I had never seen the face, but it affected 
me in the same strange way. Again, in a moment, there 
arose before my mind innumerable pictures of myself. 

Lady Dedlock had taken shelter in the lodge, before our 
arrival there, and had come out of the gloom within. She 
stood behind my chair, with her hand upon it. I saw her 
with her hand close to my shoulder, when I turned my head. 

"I have frightened you? 11 she said. 

No. It was not fright. Why should I be frightened ! 

" I believe, 11 said Lady Dedlock to my guardian, " I have 
the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Jarndyce. 11 

" Your remembrance does me more honour than I had 
supposed it would, Lady Dedlock, 11 he returned. 

"I recognised you in church on Sunday. I am sorry that 
any local disputes of Sir Leicester's they are not of his 
seeking, however, I believe should render it a matter of some 
absurd difficulty to show you any attention here. 11 

" I am aware of the circumstances,' 1 returned my guardian 
with a smile, "and am sufficiently obliged. 1 ' 



\ 



INTRODUCED TO LADY DEBLOCK. 309 

She had given him her hand, in an indifferent way that 
seemed habitual to her, and spoke in a correspondingly in 
different manner, though in a very pleasant voice. She was 
as graceful as she was beautiful ; perfectly self-possessed ; and 
had the air, I thought, of being able to attract and interest 
.any one, if she had thought it worth her while. The keeper 
had brought her a chair, on which she sat, in the middle of 
the porch between us. 

"Is the young gentleman disposed of, whom you wrote to 
Sir Leicester about, and whose wishes Sir Leicester was sorry 
not to have it in his power to advance in any way?" she 
said, over her shoulder, to my guardian. 

"I hope so," said he. 

She seemed to respect him, and even to wish to conciliate him. 
There was something very winning in her haughty manner; 
and it became more familiar I was going to say more easy, 
but that could hardly be as she spoke to him over her 
shoulder. 

" I presume this is your other ward, Miss Clare ? " 

He presented Ada, in form. 

" You will lose the disinterested part of your Don Quixote 
character," said Lady Dedlock to Mr. Jarndyce, over her 
shoulder again, " if you only redress the wrongs of beauty 
like this. But present me," and she turned full upon me, 
" to this young lady too ! " 

" Miss Summerson really is my ward," said Mr. Jarndyce. 
" I am responsible to no Lord Chancellor in her case." 

" Has Miss Summerson lost both her parents ? " said my Lady. 

Yes." 

" She is very fortunate in her guardian." 

Lady Dedlock looked at me, and I looked at her, and said 
I was indeed. All at once she turned from me with a hasty 
air, almost expressive of displeasure or dislike, and spoke to 
him over her shoulder again. 

" Ages have passed since we were in the habit of meeting, 
Mr. Jarndyce." 



310 BLEAK HOUSE. 

U A long time. At least I thought it was a long time, 
until I saw you last Sunday, 1 ' he returned. 

" What ! Even you are a courtier, or think it necessary to 
become one to me ! " she said, with some disdain. " I have 
achieved that reputation, I suppose." 

"You have achieved so much, Lady Dedlock," said my 
guardian, "that you pay some little penalty, I dare say. 
But none to me." 

" So much ! " she repeated, slightly laughing. " Yes ! " 

With her air of superiority, and power, and fascination, 
and I know not what, she seemed to regard Ada and me as 
little more than^children. So, as she slightly laughed, and 
afterwards sat looking at the rain, she was as self-possessed, 
and as free to occupy herself with her own thoughts, as if 
she had been alone. 

"I think you knew my sister, when we were abroad to 
gether, better than you knew me ? " she said, looking at him 
again. 

" Yes, we happened to meet oftener," he returned. 

"We went our several ways, 1 ' said Lady Dedlock, "and 
had little in common even before we agreed to differ. It is 
to be regretted, I suppose, but it could not be helped." 

Lady Dedlock again sat looking at the rain. The storm 
soon began to pass upon its way. The shower greatly abated, 
the lightning ceased, the thunder rolled among the distant 
hills, and the sun began to glisten on the wet leaves and the 
falling rain. As we sat there, silently, we saw a little pony 
phaeton corning towards us at a merry pace. 

" The messenger is coming back, my Lady," said the keeper, 
"with the carriage." 

As it drove up, we saw that there were two people inside. 
There alighted from it, with some cloaks and wrappers, 
first the Frenchwoman whom I had seen in church, and 
secondly the pretty girl ; the Frenchwoman, with a defiant 
confidence; the pretty girl confused and hesitating. 

" What now ? " said Lady Dedlock. " Two ! " 



AN ENRAGED WOMAN. 311 

U I am your maid, my Lady, at the present," said the 
Frenchwoman. " The message was for the attendant.* 11 

"I was afraid you might mean me, my Lady, 11 said the 
pretty girl. 

" I did mean you, child," replied her mistress, calmly. " Put 
that shawl on me." 

She slightly stooped her shoulders to receive it, and the 

jtty girl lightly dropped it in its place. The French 
woman stood unnoticed, looking on with her lips very 
tightly set. 

"I am sorry," said Lady Dedlock to Mr. Jarndyce, "that 
we are not likely to renew our former acquaintance. You 
will allow me to send the carriage back for your two wards. 
It .shall be here directly." 

But, as he would on no account accept this offer, she took 
a graceful leave of Ada upjne_jLnae and put her hand 
upon his proffered arm, and got into the carriage ; which was 
a little, low, park carriage, with a hood. 

" Come in, child," she said to the pretty girl, " I shall 
want you. Go on ! " 

The carriage rolled away; and the Frenchwoman, with the 
wrappers she had brought hanging over her arm, remained 
standing where she had alighted. 

I suppose there is nothing Pride can so little bear with, as 
Pride itself, and that she was punished for her imperious 
manner. Her retaliation was the most singular I could have 
imagined. She remained perfectly still until the carnage had 
turned into the drive, and then, without the least discomposure 
of countenance, slipped off her shoes, left them on the ground, 
and walked deliberately in the same direction, through the 
wettest of the wet grass. 

" Is that young woman mad ? " said my guardian. 

"O no, sir!" said the keeper, who, with his wife, was 
looking after her. " Hortense is not one of that sort. She 
has as good a head-piece as the best. But she's mortal high 
!and passionate powerful high and passionate ; and what with 



312 LEAK HOUSE. 

having notice to leave, and having others put above her, she 
don't take kindly to it." 

" But why should she walk shoeless, through all that water ? " 
said my guardian. 

" Why, indeed, sir, unless it is to cool her down ! " said 
the man. 

" Or unless she fancies it's blood," said the woman. " She'd 
as soon walk through that as anything else, I think, when 
her own's up ! " 

We passed not far from the House, a few minutes after 
wards. Peaceful as it had looked when we first saw it, it 
looked even more so now, with a diamond spray glittering all 
about it, a light wind blowing, the birds no longer hushed 
but singing strongly, everything refreshed by the late rain, 
and the little carriage shining at the doorway like a fairy 
carriage made of silver. Still, very steadfastly and quietly 
walking towards it, a peaceful figure too in the landscape, 
went Mademoiselle Hortense, shoeless, through the wet grass. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

MOVING OX. 

IT is the long vacation in the regions of Chancery Lane. 
The good ships Law and Equity, those teak-built, copper- 
bottomed, iron-fastened, brazen-faced, and not by any means 
fast-sailing Clippers, are laid up in ordinary. The Flying 
Dutchman, with a crew of ghostly clients imploring all whom 
they may encounter to peruse their papers, has drifted, for 
the time being, Heaven knows where. The Courts are all 
shut up ; the public offices lie in a hot sleep ; Westminster 
Hall itself is a shady solitude where nightingales might sing, 
and a tenderer class of suitors than is usually found there, 
walk. 

The Temple, Chancery Lane, Serjeants 1 Inn, and Lincoln's 
Inn even unto the Fields, are like tidal harbours at low water ; 
where stranded proceedings, offices at anchor, idle clerks 
lounging on lop-sided stools that will not recover their per 
pendicular until the current of Term sets in, lie high and dry 
upon the ooze of the long vacation. Outer doors of chambers 
are shut up by the score, messages and parcels are to be left 
at the Porter's Lodge by the bushel. A crop of grass would 
grow in the chinks of the stone pavement outside Lincoln's 
Inn Hall, but that the ticket-porters, who have nothing to 
do beyond sitting in the shade there, with their white aprons 
over their heads to keep the flies off, grub it up and eat it 
thoughtfully. 



314 BLEAK HOUSE. 

There is only one Judge in town. Even he only comes 
twice a-week to sit in chambers. If the country folks of 
those assize towns on his circuit could see him now ! No full- 
bottomed wig, no red petticoats, no fur, no javelin-men, no 
white wands. Merely a close-shaved gentleman in white 
trousers and a white hat, with sea-bronze on the judicial 
countenance, and a strip of bark peeled by the solar rays from 
the judicial nose, who calls in at the shell-fish shop as he 
comes along, and drinks iced ginger-beer! 

The bar of England is scattered over the face of the earth. 
How England can get on through four long summer months 
without its bar which is its acknowledged refuge in adversity, 
and its only legitimate triumph in prosperity is beside the 
question; assuredly that shield and buckler of Britannia are 
not in present wear. The learned gentleman who is always 
so tremendously indignant at the unprecedented outrage 
committed on the feelings of his client by the opposite party, 
that he never seems likely to recover it, is doing infinitely 
better than might be expected, in Switzerland. The learned 
gentleman who does the withering business, and who blights 
all opponents with his gloomy sarcasm, is as merry as a grig 
at a French watering-place. The learned gentleman who 
weeps by the pint on the smallest provocation, has not shed 
a tear these six weeks. The very learned gentleman who has 
cooled the natural heat of his gingery complexion in pools 
and fountains of law, until he has become great in knotty 
arguments for term-time, when he poses the drowsy Bench 
with legal " chaff," inexplicable to the uninitiated and to most 
of the initiated too, is roaming, with a characteristic delight 
in aridity and dust, about Constantinople. Other dispersed 
fragments of the same great Palladium are to be found oh 
the canals of Venice, at the second cataract of the Nile, in the 
baths of Germany, and sprinkled on the sea-sand all over 
the English coast. Scarcely one is to be encountered in the 
deserted region of Chancery Lane. If such a lonely member 
of the bar do flit across the waste, and come upon a prowling 



THE LONG VACATION. 315 

suitor who is unable to leave oft* haunting the scenes of his 
anxiety, they frighten one another, and retreat into opposite 
shades. 

It is the hottest long vacation known for many years. All 
the young clerks are madly in love, and, according to their 
various degrees, pine for bliss with the beloved object, at 
Margate, Ramsgate, or Gravesend. All the middle-aged 
clerks think their families too large. All the unowned dogs 
who stray into the Inns of Court, and pant about staircases 
and other dry places, seeking water, give short howls of 
aggravation. All the blind men's dogs in the streets draw 
their masters against pumps, or trip them over buckets. A 
shop with a sun-blind, and a watered pavement, and a bowl 
of gold and silver fish in the window, is a sanctuary. Temple 
Bar gets so hot, that it is, to the adjacent Strand and Fleet 
Street, what a heater is in an urn, and keeps them simmering 
all night. 

There are offices about 'the Inns of Court in which a man 
might be cool, if any coolness were worth purchasing at such 
a price in dulness ; but, the little thoroughfares immediately 
outside those retirements seem to blaze. In Mr. Krook's court, 
it is so hot that the people turn their houses inside out, and 
sit in chairs upon the pavement Mr. Krook included, who 
there pursues his studies, with his cat (who never is too hot) 
by his side. The Sol's Arms has discontinued the harmonic 
meetings for the season, and Little Swills is engaged at the 
Pastoral Gardens down the river, where he comes out in 
quite an innocent manner, and sings comic ditties of a juvenile 
complexion, calculated (as the bill says) not to wound the 
feelings of the most fastidious mind. 

Over all the legal neighbourhood, there hangs, like some 
great veil of rust, or gigantic cobweb, the idleness and 
pensiveness of the long vacation. Mr. Snagsby, law-stationer 
of Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, is sensible of the influence ; 
not only in his mind as a sympathetic and contemplative 
man, but also in his business as a law-stationer aforesaid. He 



316 BLEAK HOUSE. 

has more leisure for musing in Staple Inn and in the Rolls Yard, 
during the long vacation, than at other seasons ; and he says 
to the two 'prentices, what a thing it is in such hot weather 
to think that you live in an island, with the sea a-rolling and 
a-bowling right round you. 

Guster is busy in the little drawing-room, on this present 
afternoon in the long vacation, when Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby 
have it in contemplation to receive company. The expected 
guests are rather select than numerous, being Mr. and Mrs. 
Chadband, and no more. From Mr. Chad band's being much 
given to describe himself, both verbally and in writing, as a 
vessel, he is occasionally mistaken by strangers for a gentleman 
connected with navigation ; but, he is, as he expresses it, " in 
the ministry." Mr. Chadband is attached to no particular 
denomination ; and is considered by his persecutors to have 
nothing so very remarkable to say on the greatest of subjects 
as to render his volunteering, on his own account, at all in 
cumbent on his conscience ; but, he has his followers, and Mrs. 
Snagsby is of the number. Mrs. Snagsby has but recently 
taken a passage upward by the vessel, Chadband; and her 
attention was attracted to that Bark A 1, when she was 
something flushed by the hot weather. 

"My little woman," says Mr. Snagsby to the sparrows in 
Staple Inn, "likes to have her religion rather sharp, you 
see!" 

So, Guster, much impressed by regarding herself for the 
time as the handmaid of Chadband, whom she knows to be 
endowed with the gift of holding forth for four hours at a 
stretch, prepares the little drawing-room for tea. All the 
furniture is shaken and dusted, the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. 
Snagsby are touched up with a wet cloth, the best tea-service 
is set forth, and there is excellent provision made of dainty 
new bread, crusty twists, cool fresh butter, thin slices of ham, 
tongue and German sausage, and delicate little rows of 
anchovies nestling in parsley ; not to mention new-laid eggs, 
to be brought up warm in a napkin, and hot buttered toast. 






MR. AND MRS. CHADBAND. 317 

For, Chadband is rather a consuming vessel the persecutors 
say a gorging vessel ; and can wield such weapons of the 
flesh as a knife and fork, remarkably well. 

Mr. Snagsby in his best coat, looking at all the prepara 
tions when they are completed, and coughing his cough of 
deference behind his hand, says to Mrs. Snagsby, "At what 
time did you expect Mr. and Mrs. Chadband, my love ? " 

"At six," says Mrs. Snagsby. 

Mr. Snagsby observes in a mild and casual way, that " it's 
gone that." 

"Perhaps you'd like to begin without them," is Mrs. 
Snagsby's reproachful remark. 

Mr. Snagsby does look as if he would like it very much, 
but he says, with his cough of mildness, " No, my dear, no. 
I merely named the time." 

" What's time," says Mrs. Snagsby, " to eternity ? " 

" Very true, my dear," says Mr. Snagsby. " Only when a 
person lays in victuals for tea, a person does it with a view 
perhaps more to time. And when a time is named for 
having tea, ifs better to come up to it." 

" To come up to it ! " Mrs. Snagsby repeats with severity. 
" Up to it ! As if Mr. Chadband was a fighter!" 

" Not at all, my dear," says Mr. Snagsby. 

Here, Guster, who had been looking out of the bedroom 
window, comes rustling and scratching down the little stair 
case like a popular ghost, and, falling flushed into the drawing- 
room, announces that Mr. and Mrs. Chadband have appeared 
in the court. The bell at the inner door in the passage 
immediately thereafter tinkling, she is admonished by Mrs. 
Snagsby, on pain of instant reconsignment to her patron 
saint, not to omit the ceremony of announcement. Much 
discomposed in her nerves (which were previously in the best 
order) by this threat, she so fearfully mutilates that point of 
state as to announce " Mr. and Mrs. Cheeseming, least which, 
Imeantersay, whatsername ! " and retires conscience-stricken 
from the presence. 



318 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Chadband is a large yellow man, with a fat smile, and 
a general appearance of having a good deal of train oil in 
his system. Mrs. Chadband is a stern, severe-looking, silent 
woman. Mr. Chadband moves softly and cumbrously, not 
unlike a bear who has been taught to walk upright. He is 
very much embarrassed about the arms, as if they were 
inconvenient to him, and he wanted to grovel ; is very much 
in a perspiration about the head ; and never speaks without 
first putting up his great hand, as delivering a token to his 
hearers that he is going to edify them. 

" My friends, 1 ' says Mr. Chadband, " Peace be on this house [ 
On the master thereof, on the mistress thereof, on the young 
maidens, and on the young men ! My friends, why do I wish 
for peace ? What is peace ? Is it war ? No. Is it strife ? 
No. Is it lovely, and gentle, and beautiful, and pleasant, and 
serene, and joyful ? O yes ! Therefore, my friends, I wish for 
peace, upon you and upon yours."" 

In consequence of Mrs. Snagsby looking deeply edified, Mr. 
Snagsby thinks it expedient on the whole to say Amen, which 
is well received. 

" Now, my friends," proceeds Mr. Chadband, " since I am 
upon this theme " 

Guster presents herself. Mrs. Snagsby, in a spectral bass 
voice, and without removing her eyes from Chadband, says, 
with dread distinctness, " Go away ! " 

" Now, my friends," says Chadband, " since I am upon this 
theme, and in my lowly path improving it " 

Guster is heard unaccountably to murmur "one thousing 
seven hundred and eighty-two. 11 The spectral voice repeats 
more solemnly, " Go away ! " 

" Now, my friends, 11 says Mr. Chadband, " we will inquire 
in a spirit of love " 

Still Guster reiterates "one thousing seven hundred and 
eighty-two. 11 

Mr. Chadband, pausing with the resignation of a man 
accustomed to be persecuted, and languidly folding up his chin 



MR. CHADBA.WS HUMILITY. 319 

into his fat smile, says, " Let us hear the maiden ! Speak, 
maiden ! " 

" One thousing seven hundred and eighty-two, if you please, 
sir. Which he wish to know what the shilling ware for," says 
Guster, breathless. 

"For?" returns Mrs. Chadband. "For his fare!" 

Guster replies that "he insistes on one and eightpence, or 
on summonsizzing the party." Mrs. Snagsby and Mrs. Chad- 
band are proceeding to grow shrill in indignation, when Mr. 
Chadband quiets the tumult by lifting up his hand. 

"My friends," says he, "I remember a duty unfulfilled 
yesterday. It is right that I should be chastened in some 
penalty. I ought not to murmur. Rachael, pay the eight- 
pence ! " 

While Mrs. Snagsby, drawing her breath, looks hard at 
Mr. Snagsby, as who should say, " You hear this Apostle ! " 
and while Mr. Chadband glows with humility and train oil, 
Mrs. Chadband pays the money. It is Mr. Chadband's habit 
it is the head and front of his pretensions indeed to keep 
this sort of debtor and creditor account in the smallest items, 
and to post it publicly on the most trivial occasions. 

" My friends," says Chadband, " eightpence is not much ; it 
might justly have been one and fourpence; it might justly 
have been half-a-crown. O let us be joyful, joyful ! O let us 
be joyful!" 

With which remark, which appears from its sound to be an 
extract in verse, Mr. Chadband stalks to the table, and, before 
taking a chair, lifts up his admonitory hand. 

" My friends," says he, " what is this which we now behold 
as being spread before us ? Refreshment. Do we need refresh 
ment then, my friends ? We do. And why do we need re 
freshment, my friends ? Because we are but mortal, because 
we are but sinful, because we are but of the earth, because 
we are not of the air. Can we fly, my friends ? We cannot. 
Why can we not fly, my friends?" 

Mr. Snagsby, presuming on the success of his last point, 



320 BLEAK HOUSE. 

ventures to observe in a cheerful and rather knowing tone, 
" No wings." But, is immediately frowned down by Mrs. 
Snagsby. 

"I say, my friends, 1 '' pursues Mr. Chadband, utterly reject 
ing and obliterating Mr. Snagsby^s suggestion, " why can we 
not fly ? Is it because we are calculated to walk ? It is. 
Could we walk, my friends, without strength ? We could 
not. What should we do without strength, my friends ? 
Our legs would refuse to bear us, our knees would double 
up, our ankles would turn over, and we should come to the 
ground. Then from whence, my friends, in a human point 
of view, do we derive the strength that is necessary to our 
limbs ? Is it," says Chadband, glancing over the table, 
"from bread in various forms, from butter which is churned 
from the milk which is yielded untoe us by the cow, from the 
eggs which are laid by the fowl, from ham, from tongue, 
from sausage, and from such like ? It is. Then let us partake 
of the good things which are set before us ! " 

The persecutors denied that there was any particular gift 
in Mr. ChadbancTs piling verbose flights of stairs, one upon 
another, after this fashion. But this can only be received as 
a proof of their determination to persecute, since it must be 
within everybody's experience, that the Chadband style of 
oratory is widely received and much admired. 

Mr. Chadband, however, having concluded for the present, 
sits down at Mr. Snagsby^s table, and lays about him pro 
digiously. The conversion of nutriment of any sort into oil 
of the quality already mentioned, appears to be a process so 
inseparable from the constitution of this exemplary vessel, that 
in beginning to eat and drink, he may be described as always 
becoming a kind of considerable Oil Mills, or other large 
factory for the production of that article on a wholesale scale. 
On the present evening of the long vacation, in Cook^s Court, 
Cursitor Street, he does such a powerful stroke of business, 
that the warehouse appears to be quite full when the works 
cease. 



THIS BOY. 

At this period of the entertainment, Guster, who has never 
recovered her first failure, but has neglected no possible or 
impossible means of bringing the establishment and herself 
into contempt among which may be briefly enumerated her 
unexpectedly performing clashing military music on Mr. 
Chad band's head with plates, and afterwards crowning that 
gentleman with muffins at which period of the entertainment, 
Guster whispers Mr. Snagsby that he is wanted. 

"And being wanted in the not to put too fine a point 
upon it in the shop ! " says Mr. Snagsby rising, " perhaps 
this good company will excuse me for half a minute." 

Mr. Snagsby descends, and finds the two ""prentices in 
tently contemplating a police constable, who holds a ragged 
boy by the arm 

" Why, bless my heart," says Mr. Snagsby, " what's the 
matter ! " 

"This boy," says the constable, "although he's repeatedly 
told to, won't move on " 

"I'm always a-moving on, sir," cries the boy, wiping away 
his grimy tears with his arm. "I've always been a-moving 
and a-moving on, ever since I was born. Where can I pos 
sible move to, sir, more nor I do move ! " 

"He won't move on," says the constable, calmly, with a 
slight professional hitch of his neck involving its better settle 
ment in his stiff stock, "although he has been repeatedly 
cautioned, and therefore I am obliged to take him into 
custody. He's as obstinate a young gonoph as I know. He 
WON'T move on." 

" O my eye ! Where can I move to ! " cries the boy, 
clutching quite desperately at his hair, and beating his bare 
feet upon the floor of Mr. Snagsby's passage. 

" Don't you come none of that, or I shall make blessed 
short work of you ! " says the constable, giving him a pas 
sionless shake. "My instructions are, that you are to move 
on. I have told you so five hundred times." 

" But where ? " cries the boy. 

VOL. T. Y 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Well ! Really, constable, you know," says Mr. Snagsby 
wistfully, and coughing behind his hand his cough of great 
perplexity and doubt; "really that does seem a question. 
Where, you know ? " 

" My instructions don't go to that, 1 ' replies the constable. 
"My instructions are that this boy is to move on." 

Do you hear, Jo? It is nothing to you or to any one 
else, that the great lights of the parliamentary sky have failed 
for some few years, in this business, to set you the example 
of moving on. The one grand recipe remains for you the 
profound philosophical prescription the be-all and the end- 
all of your strange existence upon earth. Move on ! You 
are by no means to move off, Jo, for the great lights can't 
at all agree about that. Move on ! 

Mr. Snagsby says nothing to this effect; says nothing at 
all, indeed ; but coughs his forlornest cough, expressive of no 
thoroughfare in any direction. By this time Mr. and Mrs. 
Chadband, and Mrs. Snagsby, hearing the altercation, have 
appeared upon the stairs. Guster having never left the end 
of the passage, the whole household are assembled. 

" The simple question is, sir," says the constable, " whether 
you know this boy. He says you do." 

Mrs. Snagsby, from her elevation, instantly cries out, " No 
he don't!" 

" My lit-tle woman ! " says Mr. Snagsby, looking up the 
staircase. " My love, permit me ! Pray have a moment's 
patience, my dear. I do know something of this lad, and in 
what I know of him, I can't say that there's any harm; per 
haps on the contrary, constable." To whom the law-stationer 
relates his Joful and woful experience, suppressing the half- 
crown fact. 

" Well ! " says the constable, " so far, it seems, he had 
grounds for what he said. When I took him into custody 
up in Holborn, he said you knew him. Upon that, a young 
man who was in the crowd said he was acquainted with you, 
and you were a respectable housekeeper, and if I'd call and 



THE LADY AND THE SOVEREIGN. 323 

make the inquiry, he'd appear. The young man don't seem 
inclined to keep his word, but Oh ! Here is the young 
man ! " 

Enter Mr. Guppy, who nods to Mr. Snagsby, and touches 
his hat with the chivalry of clerkship to the ladies on the 
stairs. 

" I was strolling away from the office just now, when I 
found this row going on," says Mr. Guppy to the law- 
stationer ; " and as your name was mentioned, I thought it 
was right the thing should be looked into." 

" It was very good-natured of you, sir," says Mr. Snagsby, 
" and I am obliged to you." And Mr. Snagsby again relates 
is^ experience, again suppressing the half-crown fact. 

" Now, I know where you live," says the constable, then, to 
Jo. " You live down in Tom-all- Alone's. That's a nice 
innocent place to live in, ain't it ? " 

"I can't go and live in no nicer place, sir," replies Jo. 
" They wouldn't have nothink to say to me if I wos to go to 
a nice innocent place fur to live. Who ud go and let a nice 
innocent lodging to such a reg'lar one as me ! " 

" You are very poor, ain't you ? " says the constable. 

" Yes, I am indeed, sir, wery poor in gin'ral," replies Jo. 

" I leave you to judge now ! I shook these two half-crowns 
out of him," says the constable, producing them to the com 
pany, " in only putting my hand upon him ! " 

"They're wot's left, Mr. Snagsby," says Jo, "out of a 
sov'ring as wos give me by a lady in a wale as sed she wos a 
servant and as come to my crossin one night and asked to be 
showd this 'ere ouse and the ouse wot him as you giv the 
writin to died at, and the berrin-ground wot he's berrid in. 
She ses to me she ses 'are you the boy at the Inkwhich?' 
she ses. I ses 'yes' I ses. She ses to me she ses 'can you 
show me all them places?' I ses 'yes I can' I ses. And 
she ses to me 'do it ' and I dun it and she giv me a sov'ring 
and hooked it. And I an't had much of the sov'ring neither," 
says Jo, with dirty tears, "fur I had to pay five bob, down 



824 BLEAK HOUSE. 

in Tom-all- Alone's, afore they'd square it fur to give me 
change, and then a young man he thieved another five while 
I was asleep and another boy he thieved ninepence and the 
landlord he stood drains round with a lot more on it." 

" You don't expect anybody to believe this, about the lady 
and the sovereign, do you?" says the constable, eyeing him 
aside with ineffable disdain. 

"I don't know as I do, sir," replies Jo. "I don't expect 
nothink at all, sir, much, but that's the true hist'ry on it." 

" You see what he is ! " the constable observes to the 
audience. "Well, Mr. Snagsby, if I don't lock him up this 
time, will you engage for his moving on ? " 

" No ! " cries Mrs. Snagsby from the stairs. 

"My little woman!" pleads her husband. "Constable, I 
have no doubt he'll move on. You know you really must 
do it," says Mr. Snagsby. 

" I'm every ways agreeable, sir," says the hapless Jo. 

" Do it, then," observes the constable. " You know what 
you have got to do. Do it ! And recollect you won't get 
off so easy next time. Catch hold of your money. Now, the 
sooner you're five mile off, the better for all parties." 

With this farewell hint, and pointing generally to the 
setting sun, as a likely place to move on to, the constable 
bids his auditors good afternoon ; and makes the echoes of 
Cook's Court perform slow music for him as he walks away 
on the shady side, carrying his iron-bound hat in his hand 
for a little ventilation. 

Now, Jo's improbable story concerning the lady and the 
sovereign has awakened more or less the curiosity of all the 
company. Mr. Guppy, who has an inquiring mind in matters 
of evidence, and who has been suffering severely from the 
lassitude of the long vacation, takes that interest in the case, 
that he enters on a regular cross-examination of the witness, 
which is found so interesting by the ladies that Mrs. Snagsby 
politely invites him to step up-stairs, and drink a cup of tea, 
if he will excuse the disarranged state of the tea-table, 



MRS. CHADBAND CROSS-EXAMINED. 325 

\ 

consequent on their previous exertions. Mr. Guppy yielding 
his assent to this proposal, Jo is requested to follow into the 
drawing-room doorway, where Mr. Guppy takes him in hand 
as a witness, patting him into this shape, that shape, and the 
other shape, like a butterman dealing with so much butter, 
and worrying him according to the best models. Nor is the 
examination unlike many such model displays, both in respect 
of its eliciting nothing, and of its being lengthy ; for, Mr. 
Guppy is sensible of his talent, and Mrs. Snagsby feels, not 
only that it gratifies her inquisitive disposition, but that 
it lifts her husband's establishment higher up in the law. 
During the progress of this keen encounter, the vessel Chad- 
band, being merely engaged in the oil trade, gets aground, 
and waits to be floated off'. 

"Well!" says Mr. Guppy, "either this boy sticks to it 
like cobblerVwax, or there is something out of the common 
here that beats anything that ever came into my way at 
Kenge and Carboy's." 

Mrs. Chadband whispers Mrs. Snagsby, who exclaims, 
" You don't say so ! " 

" For years ! " replies Mrs. Chadband. 

"Has known Kenge and Carboy's office for years," Mrs. 
Snagsby triumphantly explains to Mr. Guppy. " Mrs. 
Chadband this gentleman's wife Reverend Mr. Chadband." 

" Oh, indeed ! " says Mr. Guppy. 

"Before I married my present husband," says Mrs. 
JChadband. 

" Was you a party in anything, ma'am ? " says Mr. Guppy* 
transferring his cross-examination. 

"No." 

" Not a party in anything, ma^am ? " says Mr. Guppy. 

Mrs. Chadband shakes her head. 

"Perhaps you were acquainted with somebody who was a 
party in something, ma'am ? " says Mr. Guppy, who likes 
nothing better than to model his conversation on forensic 
principles. 



326 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Not exactly that, either," replies Mrs. Chadband, humour 
ing the joke with a hard-favoured smile. 

" Not exactly that, either ! " repeats Mr. Guppy. " Very 
good. Pray, ma'am, was it a lady of your acquaintance 
who had some transactions (we will not at present say what 
transactions) with Kenge and Carboy's office, or was it a 
gentleman of your acquaintance ? Take time, ma'am. We 
shall come to it presently. Man or woman, ma'am ? " 

"Neither," says Mrs. Chadband, as before. 

" Oh ! A child ! " says Mr. Guppy, throwing on the 
admiring Mrs. Snagsby the regular acute professional eye 
which is thrown on British jurymen. "Now, ma'am, perhaps 
you'll have the kindness to tell us what child." 

"You have got it at last, sir," says Mrs. Chadband, with 
another hard-favoured smile. "Well, sir, it was before 
your time, most likely, judging from your appearance. I 
was left in charge of a child named Esther Summerson, 
who was put out in life by Messrs. Kenge and Carboy." 

" Miss Summerson, ma'am ! " cries Mr. Guppy, excited. 

" / call her Esther Summerson," says Mrs. Chadband, with 
austerity. "There was no Miss-ing of the girl in my time. 
It was Esther. Esther, do this ! Esther, do that ! ' and she 
was made to do it." 

"My dear ma'am," returns Mr. Guppy, moving across the 
small apartment, " the humble individual who now addresses 
you received that young lady in London, when she first came 
here from the establishment to which you have alluded. 
Allow me to have the pleasure of taking you by the hand." 

Mr. Chadband, at last seeing his opportunity, makes his 
accustomed signal, and rises with a smoking head, which he 
dabs with his pocket-handkerchief. Mrs. Snagsby whispers 
Hush ! " 

" My friends," says Chadband, <( we have partaken in modera 
tion" (which was certainly not the case so far as he was 
concerned), " of the comforts which have been provided for 
us. May this house live upon the fatness of the land ; may 



MR. CHADBAND IMPROVES THE OCCASION. 327 

corn and wine be plentiful therein; may it grow, may it 
thrive, may it prosper, may it advance, may it proceed, may 
it press forward ! But, my friends, have we partaken of 
anything else ? We have. My friends, of what else have 
we partaken ? Of spiritual profit ? Yes. From whence have 
we derived that spiritual profit ? My young friend, stand 
forth!'" 

Jo, thus apostrophised, gives a slouch backward, and 
another slouch forward, and another slouch to each side, and 
confronts the eloquent Chad band, with evident doubts of his 
intentions. 

" My young friend," says Chadband, " you are to us a 
pearl, you are to us a diamond, you are to us a gem, you are 
to us a jewel. And why, my young friend ? " 

"/ don't know," replies Joe. "I don't know nothink." 

"My young friend," says Chadband, "it is because you 
know nothing that you are to us a gem and jewel. For 
what are you, my young friend ? Are you a beast of the 
field ? No. A bird of the air ? No. A fish of the sea or 
river? No. You are a human boy, my young friend. 
A human boy. O glorious to be a human boy ! And why 
glorious, my young friend ? Because you arc capable of 
receiving the lessons of wisdom, because you are capable of 
profiting by this discourse which I now deliver for your good, 
because you are not a stick, or a staff, or a stock, or a stone, 
or a post, or a pillar. 

O running stream of sparkling joy 
To be a soaring human boy ! 

And do you cool yourself in that stream now, my young 
friend ? No. Why do you not cool yourself in that stream 
now ? Because you are in a state of darkness, because you are 
in a state of obscurity, because you are in a state of sinful- 
ness, because you are in a state of bondage. My young friend, 
what is bondage ? Let us, in a spirit of love, inquire." 
At this threatening stage of the discourse, Jo, who seems 



328 BLEAK HOUSE. 

to have been gradually going out of his mind, smears his 
right arm over his face, and gives a terrible yawn. Mrs. 
Snagsby indignantly expresses her belief that he is a limb 
of the arch-fiend. 

" My friends," says Mr. Chadband, with his persecuted chin 
folding itself into its fat smile again as he looks round, "it 
is right that I should be humbled, it is right that I should 
be tried, it is right that I should be mortified, it is right 
that I should be corrected. I stumbled, on Sabbath last, 
when I thought with pride of my three hours' improving. 
The account is now favourably balanced : my creditor has 
accepted a composition. O let us be joyful, joyful ! O let 
us be joyful !" 

Great sensation on the part of Mrs. Snagsby. 

"My friends," says Chadband, looking round him in con 
clusion, " I will not proceed with my young friend now. 
Will you come to-morrow, my young friend, and inquire of 
this good lady where I am to be found to deliver a discourse 
untoe you, and will you come like the thirsty swallow upon 
the next day, and upon the day after that, and upon the 
day after that, and upon many pleasant days, to hear dis 
courses ? " (This, with a cow-like lightness.) 

Jo, whose immediate object seems to be to get away on 
any terms, gives a shuffling nod. Mr. Guppy then throws 
him a penny, and Mrs. Snagsby calls to Guster to see him 
safely out of the house. But, before he goes down-stairs, 
Mr. Snagsby loads him with some broken meats from the 
table, which he carries away, hugging in his arms. 

So, Mr. Chadband of whom the persecutors say that it 
is no wonder he should go on for any length of time utter 
ing such abominable nonsense, but that the wonder rather 
is that he should ever leave off, having once the audacity to 
begin retires into private life until he invests a little capital 
of supper in the oil-trade. Jo moves on, through the long 
vacation, down to Blackfriars Bridge, where he finds a 
baking stony corner, wherein to settle to his repast. 



ANOTHER "MOVE ON." 320 

And there he sits, munching and gnawing, and looking 
up at the great Cross on the summit of St. Paul's Cathedral, 
glittering above a red and violet- tinted cloud of smoke. 
From the boy's face one might suppose that sacred emblem 1 
to be, in his eyes, the crowning confusion of the great, con- I 
fused city; so golden, so high up, so far out of his reach.J 
There he sits, the sun going down, the river rnnning fast, 
the crowd flowing by him in two streams everything moving 
on to some purpose- and to one end until he is stirred 
up, and told to 



CHAPTER XX. 

A NEW LODGER. 

THE long vacation saunters on towards term-time, like an 
idle river very leisurely strolling down a flat country to the 
sea. Mr. Guppy saunters along with it congenially. He 
has blunted the blade of his penknife, and broken the point 
off, by sticking that instrument into his desk in every direc 
tion. Not that he bears the desk any ill-will, but he must 
do something, and it must be something of an unexciting 
nature, which will lay neither his physical nor his intellectual 
energies under too heavy contribution. He finds that 
nothing agrees with him so well, as to make little gyrations 
on one leg of his stool, and stab his desk, and gape 

Kenge and Carboy are out of town, and the articled clerk 
has taken out a shooting licence, and gone down to his 
father's, and Mr. Guppy's two fellow-stipendiaries are away 
on leave. Mr. Guppy, and Mr. Richard Carstone, divide the 
dignity of the office. But Mr. Carstone is for the time being 
established in Kenge's room, whereat Mr. Guppy chafes. So 
exceedingly, that he with biting sarcasm informs his mother, 
in the confidential moments when he sups with her off a 
lobster and lettuce, in the Old Street Road, that he is afraid 
the office is hardly good enough for swells, and that if he 
had known there was a swell coming, he would have got it 
painted. 

Mr. Guppy suspects everybody who enters on the occupa 
tion of a stool in Kenge and Carboy's office, of entertaining, 



YOUNG SMALLWEED. 331 

as a matter of course, sinister designs upon him. He is clear 
that every such person wants to depose him. If he be ever 
asked how, why, when, or wherefore, he shuts up one eye 
and shakes his head. On the strength of these profound 
views, he in the most ingenious manner takes infinite pains 
to counterplot, when there is no plot; and plays the deepest 
games of chess without any adversary. 

It is a source of much gratification to Mr. Guppy, there 
fore, to find the new-comer constantly poring over the 
papers in Jarndyce and Jarndyce; for he well knows that 
nothing but confusion and failure can come of that. His 
satisfaction communicates itself to a third saunterer through 
the long vacation in Kenge and Carboy's office ; to wit, 
Young Smallweed. 

Whether Young Smallweed (metaphorically called Small 
and eke Chick Weed, as it were jocularly to express a 
fledgling,) was ever a boy, is much doubted in Lincoln's Inn. 
He is now something under fifteen, and an old limb of the 
law. He is facetiously understood to entertain a passion for 
a lady at a cigar-shop, in the neighbourhood of Chancery 
Lane, and for her sake to have broken off a contract with 
another lady, to whom he had been engaged some years. 
He is a town-made article, of small stature and weazen 
features ; but may be perceived from a considerable distance 
by means of his very tall hat. To become a Guppy is the 
object of his ambition. He dresses at that gentleman (by 
whom he is patronized), talks at him, walks at him, founds 
himself entirely on him. He is honoured with Mr. Guppy's 
particular confidence, and occasionally advises him, from the 
deep wells of his experience, on difficult points in private 
life. 

Mr. Guppy has been lolling ou^ of window all the morn 
ing, after trying all the stools in succession and finding 
none of them easy, and after several times putting his head 
into the iron safe with a notion of cooling it. Mr. Small- 
weed has been twice despatched for effervescent drinks, and 



332 BLEAK HOUSE. 

has twice mixed them in the two official tumblers and stirred 
them up with the ruler. Mr. Guppy propounds, for Mr. 
Smallweed's consideration, the paradox that the more you 
drink the thirstier you are ; and reclines his head upon the 
window-sill in a state of hopeless languor. 

While thus looking out into the shade of Old Square, 
Lincoln's Inn, surveying the intolerable bricks and mortar, 
Mr. Guppy becomes conscious of a manly whisker emerging 
from the cloistered walk below, and turning itself up in the 
direction of his face. At the same time, a low whistle is 
wafted through the Inn, and a suppressed voice cries, " Hip ! 
Gup-py ! " 

"Why, you don't mean it?" says Mr. Guppy, aroused. 
"Small! 'Here's Jobling!" Small's head looks out of 
window too, and nods to Jobling. 

" Where have you sprung up from ? " inquires Mr. Guppy. 

"From the market-gardens down by Deptford. I can't 
stand it any longer. I must enlist. I say ! I wish you'd 
lend me half-a-crown. Upon my soul I'm hungry." 

Jobling looks hungry, and also has the appearance of 
having run to seed in the market-gardens down by Dept 
ford. 

"I say ! Just throw out half-a-crown, if you have got one 
to spare. I want to get some dinner." 

" Will you come and dine with me ? " says Mr. Guppy, 
throwing out the coin, which Mr. Jobling catches neatly. 

" How long should I have to hold out ? " says Jobling. 

"Not half an hour. I am only waiting here till the 
enemy goes," returns Mr. Guppy, butting inward with his 
head. 

"What enemy?" 

"A new one. Going to be articled. Will you wait?" 

" Can you give a fellow anything to read in the meantime ? " 
says Mr. Jobling. 

Smallweed suggests the Law List. But Mr. Jobling de 
clares, with much earnestness, that he "can't stand it." 



MR. JOBLING. 333 

" You shall have the paper," says Mr. Guppy. " He shall 
bring it down. But you had better not be seen about here. 
Sit on our staircase and read. It's a quiet place." 

Jobling nods intelligence and acquiescence. The sagacious 
Smallweed supplies him with the newspaper, and occasionally 
drops his eye upon him from the landing as a precaution 
against his becoming disgusted with waiting, and making an 
untimely departure. At last the enemy retreats, and then 
Smallweed fetches Mr. Jobling up. 

" Well, and how are you ? " says Mr. Guppy, shaking hands 
with him. 

" So, so. How are you ? " 

Mr. Guppy replying that he is not much to boast of, Mr. 
Jobling ventures on the question, " How is she ? " This Mr. 
Guppy resents as a liberty ; retorting, " Jobling, there are 
chords in the human mind " Jobling begs pardon. 

"Any subject but that ! " says Mr. Guppy, with a 
gloomy enjoyment of his injury. "For there are chords, 
Jobling " 

Mr. Jobling begs pardon again. 

During this short colloquy, the active Smallweed, who is 
of the dinner party, has written in legal characters on a slip 
of paper, "Return immediately." This notification to all 
whom it may concern, he inserts in the letter-box ; and then 
putting on the tall hat, at the angle of inclination at which 
Mr. Guppy wears his, informs his patron that they may now 
make themselves scarce. 

Accordingly they betake themselves to a neighbouring 
dining-house, of the class known among its frequenters by 
the denomination Slap-Bang, where the waitress, a bouncing 
young female of forty, is supposed to have made some im 
pression on the susceptible Smallweed ; of whom it may be 
remarked that he is a weird changeling, to whom years are 
nothing. He stands precociously possessed of centuries of 
owlish wisdom. If he ever lay in a cradle, it seems as if he 
must have lain there in a tail-coat. He has an old, old eye> 



334 BLEAK HOUSE. 

has Smallweed : and he drinks and smokes, in a monkeyish 
way ; and his neck is stiff in his collar ; and he is never to 
be taken in ; and he knows all about it, whatever it is. In 
short, in his bringing up, he has been so nursed by Law and 
Equity that he has become a kind of fossil Imp, to account 
for whose terrestrial existence it is reported at the public 
offices that his father was John Doe, and his mother the only 
female member of the Roe family : also that his first long- 
clothes were made from a blue bag. 

Into the dining-house, unaffected by the seductive show in 
the window, of artificially whitened cauliflowers and poultry, 
verdant baskets of peas, coolly blooming cucumbers, and joints 
ready for the spit, Mr. Smallweed leads the way. They 
know him there, and defer to him. He has his favourite 
box, he bespeaks all the papers, he is down upon bald patri 
archs, who keep them more than ten minutes afterwards. It 
is of no use trying him with anything less than a full-sized 
"bread," or proposing to him any joint in cut, unless it 
is in the very best cut. In the matter of gravy he is 
adamant. 

Conscious of his elfin power, and submitting to his dread 
experience, Mr. Guppy consults him in the choice of that 
day's banquet; turning an appealing look towards him as 
the waitress repeats the catalogue of viands, and saying 
"What do you take, Chick?" Chick, out of the profundity 
of his artfulness, preferring " veal and ham and French beans 
And don't you forget the stuffing, Polly," (with an un 
earthly cock of his venerable eye); Mr. Guppy and Mr. 
Jobling give the like order. Three pint pots of half-and-half 
are superadded. Quickly the waitress returns, bearing what 
is apparently a model of the tower of Babel, but what is 
really a pile of plates and flat tin dish-covers. Mr. Small- 
weed, approving of what is set before him, conveys intelligent 
benignity into his ancient eye, and winks upon her. Then, 
amid a constant coming in, and going out, and running about, 
and a clatter of crockery, and a rumbling up and down of 



A SLAP-BANG DINNER. 335 

the machine which brings the nice cuts from the kitchen, 
and a shrill crying for more nice cuts down the speaking- 
pipe, and a shrill reckoning of the cost of nice cuts that 
have been disposed of, and a general flush and steam of hot 
joints, cut and uncut, and a considerably heated atmosphere 
in which the soiled knives and table-cloths seem to break out 
spontaneously into eruptions of grease and blotches of beer, 
the legal triumvirate appease their appetites. 

Mr. Jobling is buttoned up closer than mere adornment 
might require. His hat presents at the rims a peculiar ap 
pearance of a glistening nature, as if it had been a favourite 
snail-promenade. The same phenomenon is visible on some 
parts of his coat, and particularly at the seams. He has the 
faded appearance of a gentleman in embarrassed circum 
stances ; even his light whiskers droop with something of a 
shabby air. 

His appetite is so vigorous, that it suggests spare living 
for some little time back. He makes such a speedy end of 
his plate of veal and ham, bringing it to a close while his 
companions are yet midway in theirs, that Mr. Guppy pro 
poses another. " Thank you, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, " I 
really don't know but what I will take another." 

Another being brought, he falls to with great good 
will. 

Mr. Guppy takes silent notice of him at intervals, until he 
is half way through this second plate and stops to take an 
enjoying pull at his pint pot of half-and-half (also renewed), 
and stretches out his legs and rubs his hands. Beholding 
him in which glow of contentment, Mr. Guppy says : 

" You are a man again, Tony ! " 

"Well, not quite, yet," says Mr. Jobling. "Say, just 
born." 

" Will you take any other egetables ? Grass ? Peas ? 
Summer cabbage ? " 

"Thank you, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling. "I really don't 
know but what I will take summer cabbage." 



336 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Order given ; with the sarcastic addition (from Mr. Small- 
weed) of " Without slugs, Polly ! " And cabbage produced. 

"I am growing up, Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, plying his 
knife and fork with a relishing steadiness. 

" Glad to hear it." 

" In fact, I have just turned into my teens," says Mr. 
Jobling. 

He says no more until he has performed his task, which 
he achieves as Messrs. Guppy and Small weed finish theirs ; thus 
getting over the ground in excellent style, and beating those 
two gentlemen easily by a veal and ham and a cabbage. 

" Now, Small," says Mr. Guppy, " what would you recom 
mend about pastry?" 

" Marrow puddings," says Mr. Small weed, instantly. 

"Aye, aye!" cries Mr. Jobling, with an arch look. 
"You're there, are you? Thank you, Mr. Guppy, I don't 
know but what I will take a marrow pudding." 

Three marrow puddings being produced, Mr. Jobling adds, 
in a pleasant humour, that he is coming of age fast. To these 
succeed, by command of Mr. Smallweed, "three Cheshire*;" 
and to those, " three small rums." This apex of the entertain 
ment happily reached, Mr. Jobling puts up his legs on the 
carpeted seat (having his own side of the box to himself), 
leans against the wall, and says, " I am grown up, now, Guppy. 
I have arrived at maturity." 

" What do you think, now," says Mr. Guppy, " about you 
don't mind Smallweed?" 

"Not the least in the world. I have the pleasure of 
drinking his good health." 

" Sir, to you ! " says Mr. Smallweed. 

" I was saying, what do you think now" pursues Mr. Guppy, 
"of enlisting?" 

" Why, what I may think after dinner," returns Mr. Jobling, 
" is one thing, my dear Guppy, and what I may think before 
dinner is another thing. Still, even after dinner, I ask myself 
the question, What am I to do ? How am I to live ? Ill 



THE WRONG SIDE OF THE POST. 337 

fo manger, you know,"" says Mr. Jobling, pronouncing that 
word as if he meant a necessary fixture in an English stable. 
"Ill fo manger. That^s the French saying, and mangering 
is as necessary to me as it is to a Frenchman. Or more so." 

Mr. Smallweed is decidedly of opinion tt much more so." 

" If any man had told me," pursues Jobling, " even so lately 
as when you and I had the frisk down in Lincolnshire, Guppy, 
and drove over to see that house at Castle Wold " 

Mr. Smallweed corrects him Chesney Wold. 

"Chesney Wold. (I thank my honourable friend for that 
cheer.) If any man had told me, then, that I should be as 
hard up at the present time as I literally find myself, I 
should have well, I should have pitched into him," says Mr. 
Jobling, taking a little rum-and- water with an air of desperate 
resignation ; u I should have let fly at his head." 

" Still, Tony, you were on the wrong side of the post then," 
remonstrates Mr. Guppy. " You were talking about nothing 
else in the gig." 

" Guppy," says Mr. Jobling, ** I will not deny it I was 
on the wrong side of the post. But I trusted to things 
coming round." 

That very popular trust in flat things coming round! 
Not in their being beaten round, or worked round, but in 
their " coming " round ! As though a lunatic should trust in 
the world's "coming* triangular! 

"I had confident expectations that things would come 
round and be all square," says Mr. Jobling, with some vague 
ness of expression, and perhaps of meaning, too. "But I 
was disappointed. They never did. And when it came to 
creditors making rows at the office, and to people that the 
office dealt with making complaints about dirty trifles of 
borrowed money, why there was an end of that connexion. 
And of any new professional connexion, too ; for if I was to 
give a reference to-morrow, it would be mentioned, and 
would sew me up. Then, what's a fellow to do? I have 
been keeping out of the way, and living cheap, down about 

TOL. i. z 



338 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the market-gardens ; but what's the use of living cheap when 
you have got no money ? You might as well live dear." 

"Better; 1 Mr. Smallweed thinks. 

"Certainly. It's the fashionable way; and fashion and 
whiskers have been my weaknesses, and I don't care who 
knows it," says Mr. Jobling. "They are great weaknesses 
Damme, sir, they are great. Well ! " proceeds Mr. Jobling, 
after a defiant visit to his rum-and-water, " what can a fellow 
do, I ask you, but enlist?" 

Mr. Guppy comes more fully into the conversation, to state 
what, in his opinion, a fellow can do. His manner is the 
gravely impressive manner of a man who has not committed 
himself in life, otherwise than as he has become the victim of 
a tender sorrow of the heart. 

" Jobling," says Mr. Guppy, " myself and our mutual friend 
Smallweed " 

(Mr. Smallweed modestly observes " Gentlemen both ! " and 
drinks.) 

" Have had a little conversation on this matter more than 
once, since you " 

" Say, got the sack ! " cries Mr. Jobling, bitterly. " Say 
it, Guppy. You mean it." 

"N-o-o! Left the Inn," Mr. Smallweed delicately 
suggests. 

" Since you left the Inn, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy ; " and 
I have mentioned, to our mutual friend Smalhveed, a plan I 
have lately thought of proposing. You know Snagsby the 
stationer ? " 

" I know there is such a stationer," returns Mr. Jobling. 
" He was not ours, and I am not acquainted with him." 

" He is ours, Jobling, and I am acquainted with him," Mr. 
Guppy retorts. "Well, sir! I have lately become better 
acquainted with him, through some accidental circumstances 
that have made me a visitor of his in private life. Those 
circumstances it is not necessary to offer in argument. They 
may or they may not have some reference to a subject, 



A CHANCE FOR JOBLING. 339 

which may or may not have cast its shadow on my 
existence." 

As it is Mr. Guppy's perplexing way, with boastful 
misery to tempt his particular friends into this subject, and 
the moment they touch it, to turn on them with that 
trenchant severity about the chords in the human mind; 
both Mr. Jobling and Mr. Smalhveed decline the pitfall, by 
remaining silent. 

"Such things may be," repeats Mr. Guppy, "or they may 
not be. They are no part of the case. It is enough to 
mention, that both Mr. and Mrs. Snagsby are very willing 
to oblige me ; and that Snagsby has, in busy times, a good 
deal of copying work to give out. He has all Tulkinghorn's, 
and an excellent business besides. I believe, if our mutual 
friend Smallweed were put into the box, he could prove 
this?" 

Mr. Smallweed nods, and appears greedy to be sworn. 

"Now, gentlemen of the jury," says Mr. Guppy, " I 
mean, now Jobling you may say this is a poor prospect of 
a living. Granted. But it's better than nothing, and better 
than enlistment. You want time. There must be time for 
these late affairs to blow over. You might live through it 
on much worse terms than by writing for Snagsby." 

Mr. Jobling is about to interrupt, when the sagacious 
Smallweed checks him with a dry cough, and the words, 
"Hem! Shakspeare!" 

"There are two branches to this subject, Jobling," says 
Mr. Guppy. " That is the first. I come to the second. You 
know Krook, the Chancellor, across the lane. Come, Jobling," 
says Mr. Guppy, in his encouraging cross-examination-tone, 
" I think you know Krook, the Chancellor, across the lane ? " 

" I know him by sight," says Mr. Jobling. 

"You know him by sight. Very well. And you know 
little Flite?" 

" Everybody knows her," says Mr. Jobling. 

"Everybody knows her. Very well. Now it has been one 



340 BLEAK HOUSE. 

of my duties of late, to pay Flite a certain weekly allowance, 
deducting from it the amount of her weekly rent : which I 
have paid (in consequence of instructions I have received) to 
Krook himself, regularly in her presence. This has brought 
me into communication with Krook, and into a knowledge 
of his house and his habits. I know he has a room to let. 
You may live there at a very low charge, under any name 
you like ; as quietly as if you were a hundred miles off. He'll 
ask no questions; and would accept you as a tenant, at a 
word from me before the clock strikes, if you chose. And 
I tell you another thing, Jobling," says Mr. Guppy, who has 
suddenly lowered his voice, and become familiar again, " he's 
an extraordinary old chap always rummaging among a litter 
of papers, and grubbing away at teaching himself to read 
and write; without getting on a bit, as it seems to me. He 
is a most extraordinary old chap, sir. I don't know but what 
it might be worth a fellow's while to look him up a bit." 

" You don't mean ? " Mr. Jobling begins. 

"I mean," returns Mr. Guppy, shrugging his shoulders 
with becoming modesty, "that / can't make him out. I 
appeal to our mutual friend Small weed whether he has or 
has not heard me remark, that I can't make him out." 

Mr. Smallweed bears the concise testimony, " A few ! " 

" I have seen something of the profession, and something of 
life, Tony," says Mr. Guppy, "and it's seldom I can't make 
a man out, more or less. But such an old card as this ; so 
deep, so sly, and secret (though I don't believe he is ever 
sober), I never came across. Now, he must be precious old, you 
know, and he has not a soul about him, and he is reported 
to be immensely rich ; and whether he is a smuggler, or a 
receiver, or an unlicensed pawnbroker, or a money-lender 
all of which I have thought likely at different times it 
might pay you to knock up a sort of knowledge of him. I 
don't see why you shouldn't go in for it, when everything 
else suits." 

Mr. Jobling, Mr, Guppy, and Mr, Smallweed, all lean their 



( 



MR. GUPPY A TRUE FRIEND. 341 

elbows on the table, and their chins upon their hands, and 
look at the ceiling. After a time, they all drink, slowly 
lean back, put their hands in their pockets, and look at one 
another. 

" If I had the energy I once possessed, Tony ! " says Mr. 
Guppy, with a sigh. "But there are chords in the human 



Expressing the remainder of the desolate sentiment in rum- 
and- water, Mr. Guppy concludes by resigning the adventure 
to Tony Jobling, and informing him that during the vacation 
and while things are slack, his purse, " as far as three or four 
or even five pound goes," will be at his disposal. " For never 
shall it be said," Mr. Guppy adds with emphasis, "that 
William Guppy turned his back upon his friend ! " 

The latter part of the proposal is so directly to the purpose, 
that Mr. Jobling says with emotion, " Guppy, my trump, 
your fist ! " Mr. Guppy presents it, saying, " Jobling, my 
boy, there it is ! " Mr. Jobling returns, " Guppy, we have 
been pals now for some years ! " Mr. Guppy replies, " Jobling, 
we have." 

They then shake hands, and Mr. Jobling adds in a feeling 
manner, "Thank you, Guppy, I don't know but what I will 
take another glass for old acquaintance sake." 

"Krook's last lodger died there," observes Mr. Guppy, in 
an incidental way. 

" Did he though ! " says Mr. Jobling. 

"There was a verdict. Accidental death. You don't 
mind that?" 

" No," says Mr. Jobling, " I don't mind it ; but he might 
as well have died somewhere else. It's devilish odd that he 
need go and die at my place ! " Mr. Jobling quite resents 
this liberty; several times returning to it with such remarks 
as, " There are places enough to die in, I should think ! " 
or, " He wouldn't have liked my dying at his place, I dare 
say!" 

However, the compact being virtually made, Mr. Guppy 



342 BLEAK HOUSE. 

proposes to despatch the trusty Smallweed to ascertain if 
Mr. Krook is at home, as in that case they may complete the 
negotiation without delay. Mr. Jobling approving, Smallweed 
puts himself under the tall hat and conveys it out of the 
dining-rooms in the Guppy manner. He soon returns with 
the intelligence that Mr. Krook is at home, and that he has 
seen him through the shop-door, sitting in the back premises, 
sleeping, " like one o'clock." 

"Then I'll pay," says Mr. Guppy, "and we'll go and see 
him. Small, what will it be ? " 

Mr. Smallweed, compelling the attendance of the waitress 
with one hitch of his eyelash, instantly replies as follows : 
" Four veals and hams is three, and four potatoes; is three 
and four, and one summer cabbage is three and six, and 
three marrows is four and six, and six breads is five, and 
three Cheshires is five and three, and four half-pints of half- 
and-half is six and three, and four small rums is eight and 
three, and three Poltys is eight and six. Eight and six in 
half a sovereign, Polly, and eighteenpence out ! n 

Not at all excited by these stupendous calculations, Small- 
weed dismisses his friends with a cool nod, and remains behind 
to take a little admiring notice of Polly, as opportunity may 
serve, and to read the daily papers: which are so very large 
in proportion to himself, shorn of his hat, that when he holds 
up The Times to run his eye over the columns, he seems to 
have retired for the night, and to have disappeared under the 
bedclothes. 

Mr. Guppy and Mr. Jobling repair to the rag and bottle 
shop, where they find Krook still sleeping like one o'clock ; 
that is to say, breathing stertorously with his chin upon his 
breast, and quite insensible to any external sounds, or even 
to gentle shaking. On the table beside him, among the 
usual lumber, stand an empty gin-bottle and a glass. The 
unwholesome air is so stained with this liquor, that even the 
green eyes of the cat upon her shelf, as they open and shut 
and glimmer on the visitors, look drunk. 



SLEEPING LUCE ONE O'CLOCK. 343 

" Hold up here ! " says Mr. Guppy, giving the relaxed 
figure of the old man another shake. " Mr. Krook ! Halloa, 
sir ! " 

But it would seem as easy to wake a bundle of old clothes, 
with a spirituous heat smouldering in it. " Did you ever see 
such a stupor as he falls into, between drink and sleep?" says 
Mr. Guppy. 

"If this is his regular sleep," returns Jobling, rather 
alarmed, "it'll last a long time one of these days, I am 
thinking." 

"It's always more like a fit than a nap," says Mr. Guppy, 
shaking him again. " Halloa, your lordship ! Why he might 
be robbed, fifty times over ! Open your eyes ! " 

After much ado, he opens them, but without appearing to 
see his visitors, or any other objects. Though he crosses one 
leg on another, and folds his hands, and several times closes 
and opens his parched lips, he seems to all intents and pur 
poses as insensible as before. 

"He is alive, at any rate," says Mr. Guppy. "How are 
you, my Lord Chancellor ? I have brought a friend of mine, 
sir, on a little matter of business." 

The old man still sits, often smacking his dry lips without 
the least consciousness. After some minutes, he makes an 
attempt to rise. They help him up, and he staggers against 
the wall, and stares at them. 

" How do you do, Mr. Krook ? " says Mr. Guppy, in some 
discomfiture. "How do you do, sir? You are looking 
charming, Mr. Krook. I hope you are pretty well ? " 

The old man, in aiming a purposeless blow at Mr. Guppy, 
or at nothing, feebly swings himself round, and comes with 
his face against the wall. So he remains for a minute or 
two, heaped up against it ; and then staggers down the shop 
to the front door. The air, the movement in the court, the 
lapse of time, or the combination of th^se things, recovers 
him. He comes back pretty steadily, adjusting his fur-cap 
on his head, and looking keenly at them. 



344 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Your servant, gentlemen ; I've been dozing. Hi ! I am 
hard to wake, odd times."" 

"Rather so, indeed, sir," responds Mr. Guppy. 

" What ? You've been a- trying to do it, have you ? " says 
the suspicious Krook. 

" Only a little," Mr. Guppy explains. 

The old man's eye resting on the empty bottle, he takes 
it up, examines it, and slowly tilts it upside down. 

" I say ! " he cries, like the Hobgoblin in the story. 
" Somebody's been making free here ! " 

" I assure you we found it so," says Mr. Guppy. " Would 
you allow me to get it filled for you ? " 

" Yes, certainly I would ! " cries Krook, in high glee. " Cer 
tainly I would ! Don't mention it ! Get it filled next door 
Sol's Arms the Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. Bless 
you, they know me!" 

He so presses the empty bottle upon Mr. Guppy, that 
that gentleman, with a nod to his friend, accepts the trust, 
and hurries out and hurries in again with the bottle filled. 
The old man receives it in his arms like a beloved grand 
child, and pats it tenderly. 

" But, I say ! " he whispers, with his eyes screwed up, after 
tasting it, "this ain't the Lord Chancellor's fourteenpenny. 
This is eighteenpenny ! " 

" I thought you might like that better," says Mr. Guppy. 

"You're a nobleman, sir," returns Krook, with another 
taste and his hot breath seems to come towards them like 
a flame. " You're a baron of the land." 

Taking advantage of this auspicious moment, Mr. Guppy 
presents his friend under the impromptu name of Mr. Wee vie, 
and states the object of their visit. Krook with his bottle 
under his arm (he never gets beyond a certain point of either 
drunkenness or sobriety), takes time to survey his proposed 
lodger, and seems to approve of him. " You'd like to see the 
room, young man ?" he says. " Ah ! It's a good room ! Been 
whitewashed. Been cleaned down with soft soap and soda. 



MR. KROOK'S LODGER TAKES POSSESSION. 345 

Hi ! It's worth twice the rent ; letting alone my company 
when you want it, and such a cat to keep the mice away." 

Commending the room after this manner, the old man takes 
them up-stairs, where indeed they do find it cleaner than it 
used to be, and also containing some old articles of furniture 
which he has dug up from his inexhaustible stores. The 
terms are easily concluded for the Lord Chancellor cannot 
be hard on Mr. Guppy, associated as he is with Kenge and 
Carboy, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and other famous claims on 
his professional consideration and it is agreed that Mr. 
Weevle shall take possession on the morrow. Mr. Weevle 
and Mr. Guppy then repair to Cook's Court, Cursitor Street, 
where the personal introduction of the former to Mr. Snagsby 
is effected, and (more important) the vote and interest of 
Mrs. Snagsby are secured. They then report progress to the 
eminent Smallweed, waiting at the office in his tall hat for 
that purpose, and separate ; Mr. Guppy explaining that he 
would terminate his little entertainment by standing treat at 
the play, but that there are chords in the human mind which 
would render it a hollow mockery. 

On the morrow, in the dusk of evening, Mr. Weevle 
modestly appears at Krook's, by no means incommoded with 
luggage, and establishes himself in his new lodging ; where the 
two eyes in the shutters stare at him in his sleep, as if they 
were full of wonder. On the following day Mr. Weevle, who 
is a handy good-for-nothing kind of young fellow, borrows a 
needle and thread of Miss Flite, and a hammer of his land 
lord, and goes to work devising apologies for window-curtains, 
and knocking up apologies for shelves, and hanging up his 
two teacups, milkpot, and crockery sundries on a pennyworth 
of little hooks, like a shipwrecked sailor making the best 
of it. 

But what Mr. Weevle prizes most, of all his few possessions 
(next after his light whiskers, for which he has an attachment 
that only whiskers can awaken in the breast of man), is a 
choice collection of copper-plate impressions from that truly 



346 BLEAK HOUSE. 

national work, The Divinities of Albion, or Galaxy Gallery 
of British Beauty, representing ladies of title and fashion 
in every variety of smirk that art, combined with capital, is 
capable of producing. With these magnificent portraits, un 
worthily confined in a band-box during his seclusion among 
the market-gardens, he decorates his apartment; and as the 
Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty wears every variety of fancy 
dress, plays every variety of musical instrument, fondles every 
variety of dog, ogles every variety of prospect, and is backed 
up by every variety of flower-pot and balustrade, the result 
is very imposing. 

But, fashion is Mr. Weevle's, as it was Tony Jobling's 
weakness. To borrow yesterday's paper from the SoPs Arms 
of an evening, and read about the brilliant and distinguished 
meteors that are shooting across the fashionable sky in every 
direction, is unspeakable consolation to him. To know what 
member of what brilliant and distinguished circle accomplished 
the brilliant and distinguished feat of joining it yesterday, or 
contemplates the no less brilliant and distinguished feat of 
leaving it to-morrow, gives him a thrill of joy. To be in 
formed what the Galaxy Gallery of British Beauty is about, 
and means to be about, and what Galaxy marriages are on 
the tapis, and what Galaxy rumours are in circulation, is to 
become acquainted with the most glorious destinies of man 
kind. Mr. Weevle reverts from this intelligence, to the Galaxy 
portraits implicated ; and seems to know the originals, and to 
be known of them. 

For the rest he is a quiet lodger, full of handy shifts and 
devices as before mentioned, able to cook and clean for him 
self as well as to carpenter, and developing social inclina 
tions after the shades of evening have fallen on the court. 
At those times, when he is not visited by Mr. Guppy, or by 
a small light in his likeness quenched in a dark hat, he comes 
out of his dull room where he has inherited the deal wilder 
ness of desk bespattered with a rain of ink and talks to Krook, 
or is " very free," as they call it in the court, commendingly, 



IDEAL WHISKERS. 347 

with any one disposed for conversation. Wherefore, Mrs. 
Piper, who leads the court, is impelled to offer two remarks 
to Mrs. Perkins : Firstly, that if her Johnny was to have 
whiskers, she could wish 'em to be identically like that 
young man's; and secondly, Mark my words, Mrs. Perkins, 
ma'am, and don't you be surprised Lord bless you, if that 
young man comes in at last for old Krook's money ! 



CHAPTER XXI, 

THE SMALLWEED FAMILY. 

IN a rather ill-favoured and ill-savoured neighbourhood, 
though one of its rising grounds bears the name of Mount 
Pleasant, the Elfin Smallweed, christened Bartholomew, and 
known on the domestic hearth as Bart, passes that limited 
portion of his time on which the office and its contingencies 
have no claim. He dwells in a little narrow street, always 
solitary, shady, and sad, closely bricked in on all sides like 
a tomb, but where there yet lingers the stump of an old 
forest tree, whose flavour is about as fresh and natural as the 
Smallweed smack of youth. 

There has been only one child in the Smallweed family for 
several generations. Little old men and women there have 
been, but no child, until Mr. Smallweed's grandmother, now 
living, became weak in her intellect, and fell (for the first 
time) into a childish state. With such infantine graces as a 
total want of observation, memory, understanding and interest, 
and an eternal disposition to fall asleep over the fire and into 
it, Mr. Smallweed's grandmother has undoubtedly brightened 
the family. 

Mr. Smallweed's grandfather is likewise of the party. He 
is in a helpless condition as to his lower, and nearly so as to 
his upper limbs ; but his mind is unimpaired. It holds, as 
well as it ever held, the first four rules of arithmetic, and a 
certain small collection of the hardest facts. In respect of 



ILL WEEDS DON'T ALWAYS GROW APACE. 349 

ideality, reverence, wonder, and other such phrenological 
attributes, it is no worse off than it used to be. Everything 
that Mr. SmallweecFs grandfather ever put away in his mind 
was a grub at first, and is a grub at last. In all his life he 
has never bred a single butterfly. 

The father of this pleasant grandfather, of the neighbour 
hood of Mount Pleasant, was a horny-skinned, two-legged, 
money-getting species of spider, who spun webs to catch un 
wary flies, and retired into holes until they were entrapped. 
The name of this old pagan's God was Compound Interest. 
He lived for it, married it, died of it. Meeting with a heavy 
loss in an honest little enterprise in which all the loss was 
intended to have been on the other side, he broke something 
something necessary to his existence ; therefore it couldn't 
have been his heart and made an end of his career. As 
his character was not good, and he had been bred at a 
Charity School, in a complete course, according to question 
and answer, of those ancient people the Amorites and Hittites, 
he was frequently quoted as an example of the failure of 
education. 

His spirit shone through his son, to whom he had always 
preached of " going out " early in life, and whom he made a 
clerk in a sharp scrivener's office at twelve years old. There, 
the young gentleman improved his mind, which was of a 
lean and anxious character; and, developing the family gifts, 
gradually elevated himself into the discounting profession. 
Going out early in life, and marrying late, as his father had 
done before him, he too begat a lean and anxious-minded son ; 
who, in his turn, going out early in life and marrying late, 
became the father of Bartholomew and Judith Smallweed, 
twins. During the whole time consumed in the slow growth 
of this family tree, the house of Smallweed, always early to go 
out and late to marry, has strengthened itself in its practical 
character, has discarded all amusements, discountenanced all 
story-books, fairy tales, fictions, and fables, and banished all 
levities whatsoever Hence the gratifying fact, that it has 



350 BLEAK HOUSE. 

had no child horn to it, and that the complete little men 
and women whom it has produced, have been observed to 
bear a likeness to old monkeys with something depressing on 
their minds. 

At the present time, in the dark little parlour certain feet 
below the level of the street a grim, hard, uncouth parlour, 
only ornamented with the coarsest of baize table-covers, and 
the hardest of sheet-iron tea-trays, and offering in its deco 
rative character no bad allegorical representation of Grand 
father Smallweed's mind seated in two black horse-hair 
porter's chairs, one on each side of the fireplace, the super 
annuated Mr. and Mrs. Smallweed while away the rosy hours. 
On the stove are a couple of trivets for the pots and kettles 
which it is Grandfather Smallweed's usual occupation to 
watch, and projecting from the chimney-piece between them 
is a sort of brass gallows for roasting, which he also super 
intends when it is in action. Under the venerable Mr. Small- 
weed's seat, and guarded by his spindle legs, is a drawer in 
his chair, reported to contain property to a fabulous amount. 
Beside him is a spare cushion, with which he is always pro 
vided, in order that he may have something to throw at the 
venerable partner of his respected age whenever she makes 
an allusion to money a subject on which he is particularly 
sensitive. 

"And where's Bart?" Grandfather Smallweed inquires of 
Judy, Bart's twin-sister. 

" He ain't come in yet," says Judy. 

"It's his tea-time, isn't it ?" 

"No." 

" How much do you mean to say it wants then ? " 

" Ten minutes."" 

"Hey?" 

" Ten minutes." (Loud on the part of Judy.) 

Ho ! " says Grandfather Smallweed. " Ten minutes." 

Grandmother Smallweed, who has been mumbling and 
shaking her head at the trivets, hearing figures mentioned, 



MR. AND MRS. SMALLWEED. 351 

connects them with money, and screeches, like a horrible old 
parrot without any plumage, " Ten ten-pound notes ! " 

Grandfather Small weed immediately throws the cushion at 
her. 

" Drat you, be quiet ! " says the good old man. 

The effect of this act of jaculation is twofold. It not only 
doubles up Mrs. Smallweed's head against the side of her 
porter's chair, and causes her to present, when extricated by 
her grand-daughter, a highly unbecoming state of cap, but 
the necessary exertion recoils on Mr. Small weed himself, whom 
it throws back into his porter's chair, like a broken puppet. 
The excellent old gentleman being, at these times, a mere 
clothes-bag with a black skull-cap on the top of it, does not 
present a very animated appearance, until he has undergone 
the two operations at the hands of his grand -daughter, of 
being shaken up like a great bottle, and poked and punched 
like a great bolster. Some indication of a neck being 
developed in him by these means, he and the sharer of his 
life's evening again sit fronting one another in their two 
porter's chairs, like a couple of sentinels long forgotten on 
their post by the Black Serjeant, Death. 

Judy the twin is worthy company for these associates. 
She is so indubitably sister to Mr. Smallweed the younger, 
that the two kneaded into one would hardly make a young 
person of average proportions ; while she so happily exempli 
fies the before-mentioned family likeness to the monkey tribe, 
that, attired in a spangled robe and cap, she might walk 
about the table-land on the top of a barrel-organ without 
exciting much remark as an unusual specimen. Under 
existing circumstances, however, she is dressed in a plain, 
spare gown of brown stuff. 

Judy never owned a doll, never heard of Cinderella, never 
played at any game. She once or twice fell into children's 
company when she was about ten years old, but the children 
couldn't get on with Judy, and Judy couldn't get on with 
them. She seemed like an animal of another species, and 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

there was instinctive repugnance on both sides. It is very 
doubtful whether Judy knows how to laugh. She has so 
rarely seen the thing done, that the probabilities are strong 
the other way. Of anything like a youthful laugh, she 
certainly can have no conception. If she were to try one, 
she would find her teeth in her way; modelling that action 
of her face, as she has unconsciously modelled all its other 
expressions, on her pattern of sordid age. Such is Judy. 

And her twin-brother couldn't wind up a top for his life. 
He knows no more of Jack the Giant Killer, or of Sinbad 
the Sailor, than he knows of the people in the stars. He 
could as soon play at leap-frog, or at cricket, as change into 
a cricket or a frog himself. But, he is so much the better 
off than his sister, that on his narrow world of fact an open 
ing has dawned, into such broader regions as lie within the 
ken of Mr. Guppy. Hence, his admiration and his emulation 
of that shining enchanter. 

Judy, with a gong-like clash and clatter, sets one of the 
sheet-iron tea-trays on the table, and arranges cups and 
saucers. The bread she puts on in an iron basket; and the 
butter (and not much of it) in a small pewter plate. Grand 
father Smallweed looks hard after the tea as it is served out, 
and asks Judy where the girl is ? 

" Charley, do you mean ? " says Judy. 

" Hey ? " from Grandfather Smallweed. 

" Charley, do you mean ? " 

This touches a spring in Grandmother Smallweed, who, 
chuckling, as usual, at the trivets, cries " Over the water ! 
Charley over the water, Charley over the water, over the 
water to Charley, Charley over the water, over the water to 
Charley ! " and becomes quite energetic about it. Grandfather 
looks at the cushion, but has not sufficiently recovered his 
late exertion. 

" Ha ! " he says, when there is silence " if that's her name. 
She eats a deal. It would be better to allow her for her 
keep." 



GRANDFATHER SMALLWEED'S ADVICE. 353 

Judy, with her brother's wink, shakes her head, and purses 
up her mouth into No, without saying it. 

" No ? " returns the old man. " Why not ? " 

"She'd want sixpence a-day, and we can do it for less," 
says Judy. 

"Sure?" 

Judy answers with a nod of deepest meaning, and calls, as 
she scrapes the butter on the loaf with every precaution 
against waste, and cuts it into slices, "You Charley, where 
are you ? " Timidly obedient to the summons, a little girl 
in a rough apron and a large bonnet, with her hands covered 
with soap and water, and a scrubbing brush in one of them, 
appears, and curtseys. 

" What work are you about now ? " says Judy, making an 
ancient snap at her, like a very sharp old beldame. 

"Fm a-cleaning the up-stairs back room, miss," replies 
Charley. 

"Mind you do it thoroughly, and don't loiter. Shirking 
won't do for me. Make haste ! Go along ! " cries Judy, with 
a stamp upon the ground. " You girls are more trouble than 
you're worth, by half." 

On this severe matron, as she returns to her task of 
scraping the butter and cutting the bread, falls the shadow 
of her brother, looking in at the window. For whom, knife 
and loaf in hand, she opens the street-door. 

" Ay, ay, Bart ! " says Grandfather Smallweed. " Here you 
are, hey?" 

"Here I am," says Bart. 

" Been along with your friend again, Bart ? " 

Small nods. 

" Dining at his expense, Bart ? " 

Small nods again. 

"That's right. Live at his expense as much as yoa can, 
and take warning by his foolish example. That's the use of 
such a friend. The only use you can put him to," says the 
venerable sage. 

VOL. i. g A 



354 BLEAK HOUSE. 

His grandson, without receiving this good counsel as duti 
fully as he might, honours it with all such acceptance as may 
lie in a slight wink and a nod, and takes a chair at the tea- 
table. The four old faces then hover over teacups, like a 
company of ghastly cherubim ; Mrs. Small weed perpetually 
twitching her head and chattering at the trivets, and Mr. 
Smallweed requiring to be repeatedly shaken up like a large 
black draught. 

"Yes, yes," says the good old gentleman, reverting to his 
lesson of wisdom. " That's such advice as your father would 
have given you, Bart. You never saw your father. More's 
the pity. He was my true son." Whether it is intended to 
be conveyed that he was particularly pleasant to look at, on 
that account, does not appear. 

"He was my true son," repeats the old gentleman, folding 
his bread-and-butter on his knee; "a good accountant, and 
died fifteen years ago." 

Mrs. Smallweed, following her usual instinct, breaks out 
with " Fifteen hundred pound. Fifteen hundred pound in a 
black box, fifteen hundred pound locked up, fifteen hundred 
pound put away and hid ! " Her worthy husband, setting 
aside his bread-and-butter, immediately discharges the cushion 
at her, crushes her against the side of her chair, and falls 
back in his own, overpowered. His appearance, after visiting 
Mrs. Smallweed with one of these admonitions, is particularly 
impressive and not wholly prepossessing ; firstly, because the 
exertion generally twists his black skull-cap over one eye and 
gives him an air of goblin rakishriess ; secondly, because he 
mutters violent imprecations against Mrs. Smallweed ; and 
thirdly, because the contrast between those powerful expres 
sions and his powerless figure is suggestive of a baleful old 
malignant, who would be very wicked if he could. All this, 
however, is so common in the Smallweed family circle, that 
it produces no impression. The old gentleman is merely 
shaken, and has his internal feathers beaten up; the cushion 
is restored to its usual place beside him; and the old lady, 



A MIXED DISCOURSE. 355 

perhaps with her cap adjusted, and perhaps not, is planted 
in her chair again, ready to be bowled down like a ninepin. 

Some time elapses, in the present instance, before the old 
gentleman is sufficiently cool to resume his discourse ; and 
even then he mixes it up with several edifying expletives 
addressed to the unconscious partner of his bosom, who holds 
communication with nothing on earth but the trivets. As 
thus : 

"If your father, Bart, had lived longer, he might have 
been worth a deal of money you brimstone chatterer ! but 
just as he was beginning to build up the house that he had 
been making the foundations for, through many a year you 
jade of a magpie, jackdaw, and poll-parrot, what do you 
mean ! he took ill and died of a low fever, always being a 
sparing and a spare man, full of business care I should like 
to throw a cat at you instead of a cushion, and I will too if 
you make such a confounded fool of yourself! and your 
mother, who was a prudent woman as dry as a chip, just 
dwindled away like touchwood after you and Judy were born 
You are an old pig. You are a brimstone pig. You're a 
head of swine ! " 

Judy, not interested in what she has often heard, begins to 
collect in a basin various tributary streams of tea, from the 
bottoms of cups and saucers and from the bottom of the tea 
pot, for the little charwoman's evening meal. In like manner 
she gets together, in the iron bread-basket, as many outside 
fragments and worn-down heels of loaves as the rigid economy 
of the house has left in existence. 

"But, your father and me were partners, Bart," says the 
old gentleman; "and when I am gone, you and Judy will 
have all there is. It's rare for you both, that you went out 
early in life Judy to the flower business, and you to the 
law. You won't want to spend it. You'll get your living 
without it, and put more to it. When I am gone, Judy will 
go back to the flower business, and you'll still stick to the 
law." 



356 BLEAK: 

One might infer, from Judy's appearance, that her business 
rather lay with the thorns than the flowers; but, she has, in 
her time, been apprenticed to the art and mystery of artificial 
flower-making. A close observer might perhaps detect both 
in her eye and her brother's, when their venerable grandsire 
anticipates his being gone, some little impatience to know 
when he may be going, and some resentful opinion that it is 
time he went. 

"Now, if everybody has done, 1 ' says Judy, completing her 
preparations, "I'll have that girl in to her tea. She would 
never leave off, if she took it by herself in the kitchen." 

Charley is accordingly introduced, and, under a heavy fire 
of eyes, sits down to her basin and a Druidical ruin of bread- 
and-butter. In the active superintendence of this young 
person, Judy Smallweed appears to attain a perfectly geological 
age, and to date from the remotest periods. Her systematic 
manner of flying at her and pouncing on her, with or without 
pretence, whether or no, is wonderful ; evincing an accomplish 
ment in the art of girl-driving, seldom reached by the oldest 
practitioners. 

" Now, don't stare about you all the afternoon," cries Judy, 
shaking her head and stamping her foot as she happens to 
catch the glance which has been previously sounding the basin 
of tea, " but take your victuals and get back to your work." 

"Yes, miss," says Charley. 

" Don't say yes," returns Miss Smallweed, " for I know what 
you girls are. Do it without saying it, and then I may begin 
to believe you." 

Charley swallows a great gulp of tea in token of submission, 
and so disperses the Druidical ruins that Miss Smallweed 
charges her not to gormandize, which "in you girls," she 
observes, is disgusting. Charley might find some more 
difficulty in meeting her views on the general subject of girls, 
but for a knock at the door. 

" See who it is, and don't chew when you open it ! " cries 
Judy. 



MR. GEORGE. 357 

The object of her attentions withdrawing for the purpose, 
Miss Small weed takes that opportunity of jumbling the re 
mainder of the bread-and-butter together, and launching two 
or three dirty teacups into the ebb-tide of the basin of tea ; 
as a hint that she considers the eating and drinking terminated. 

" Now ! Who is it, and what's wanted ? " says the snappish 
Judy. 

It is one " Mr. George," it appears. Without other 
announcement or ceremony, Mr. George walks in. 

" Whew ! " says Mr. George. " You are hot here. Always 
a fire, eh ? Well ! Perhaps you do right to get used to one." 
Mr. George makes the latter remark to himself, as he nods to 
Grandfather Smallweed. 

" Ho ! It's you ! " cries the old gentleman. " How de do ? 
How de do ? " 

" Middling," replies Mr. George, taking a chair. " Your 
grand-daughter I have had the honour of seeing before; my 
service to you, miss." 

"This is my grandson," says Grandfather Smallweed. 
"You haVt seen him before. He is in the law, and not 
much at home." 

" My service to him, too ! He is like his sister. He is 
very like his sister. He is devilish like his sister," says Mr. 
George, laying a great and not altogether complimentary 
stress on his last adjective. 

" And how does the world use you, Mr. George ? " Grand 
father Smallweed inquires, slowly rubbing his legs. 

" Pretty much as usual. Like a football." 

He is a swarthy brown man of fifty ; well-made, and good- 
looking ; with crisp dark hair, bright eyes, and a broad chest. 
His sinewy and powerful hands, as sunburnt as his face, have 
evidently been used to a pretty rough life. W 7 hat is curious 
about him is, that he sits forward on his chair as if he were, 
from long habit, allowing space for some dress or accoutre 
ments that he has altogether laid aside. His step too is 
measured and heavy, and would go well with a weighty clash 



358 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



and jingle of spurs. He is close-shaved now, but his mouth 
is set as if his upper lip had been for years familiar with a 
great moustache; and his manner of occasionally laying the 
open palm of his broad brown hand upon it, is to the same 
effect. Altogether, one might guess Mr. George to have been 
a trooper once upon a time. 

A special contrast Mr. George makes to the Smallweed 
family. Trooper was never yet billeted upon a household 
more unlike him. It is a broadsword to an oyster-knife. 
His developed figure, and their stunted forms ; his large 
manner, filling any amount of room, and their little narrow 
pinched ways ; his sounding voice, and their sharp spare tones ; 
are in the strongest and the strangest opposition. As he sits 
in the middle of the grim parlour, leaning a little forward, 
with his hands upon his thighs and his elbows squared, he 
looks as though, if he remained there long, he would absorb 
into himself the whole family and the whole four-roomed 
house, extra little back-kitchen and all. 

" Do you rub your legs to rub life into 'em ? " he asks 
Grandfather Smallweed, after looking round the room. 

" Why, it's partly a habit, Mr. George, and yes it parti; 
helps the circulation," he replies. 

" The cir-cu-la-tion ! " repeats Mr. George, folding his ai 
upon his chest, and seeming to become two sizes larger. 
"Not much of that, I should think." 

" Truly I'm old, Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed. 
"But I can carry my years. I'm older than her? noddinj 
at his wife, "and see what she is? You're a brimstoi 
chatterer ! " with a sudden revival of his late hostility. 

" Unlucky old soul ! " says Mr. George, turning his h< 
in that direction. "Don't scold the old lady. Look at 
here, with her poor cap half off her head, and her poor hail 
all in a muddle. Hold up, ma'am. That's better. Thei 
we are ! Think of your mother, Mr. Smallweed," says Mr. 
George, coming back to his seat from assisting her, " if yoi 
wife an't enough." 



A LITTLE BUSINESS TRANSACTION. 359 

"I suppose you were an excellent son, Mr. George?" the 
old man hints, with a leer. 

The colour of Mr. George's face rather deepens, as he 
replies : " Why no. I wasn't. 1 ' 

" I am astonished at it." 

" So am I. I ought to have been a good son, and I think 
I meant to have been one. But I wasn't. I was a thunder 
ing bad son, that's the long and the short of it, and never 
was a credit to anybody." 

" Surprising ! " cries the old man. 

" However," Mr. George resumes, " the less said about it, 
the better now. Come ! You know the agreement. Always 
a pipe out of the two months' interest ! (Bosh ! It's all 
correct. You needn't be afraid to order the pipe. Here's 
the new bill, and here's the two months' interest-money, and 
a devil-and-all of a scrape it is to get it together in my 
business)." 

Mr. George sits, with his arms folded, consuming the family 
and the parlour, while Grandfather Smallweed is assisted by 
Judy to two black leathern cases out of a locked bureau ; in 
one of which he secures the document he has just received, 
and from the other takes another similar document which he 
hands to Mr. George, who twists it up for a pipe-light. As 
the old man inspects, through his glasses, every up-stroke and 
down-stroke of both documents, before he releases them from 
their leathern prison ; and as he counts the money three times 
over, and requires Judy to say every word she utters at least 
twice, and is as tremulously slow of speech and action as it 
is possible to be; this business is a long time in .progress. 
When it is quite concluded, and not before, he disengages his 
ravenous eyes and fingers from it, and answers Mr. George's 
last remark by saying, "Afraid to order the pipe? We are 
not so mercenary as that, sir. Judy, see directly to the pipe 
and the glass of cold brandy-and-water for Mr. George." 

The sportive twins, who have been looking straight before 
them all this time, except when they have been engrossed by 



360 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the black leathern cases, retire together, generally disdainful 
of the visitor, but leaving him to the old man, as two young 
cubs might leave a traveller to the parental bear. 

" And there you sit, I suppose, all the day long, eh ? " says 
Mr. George, with folded arms. 

" Just so, just so," the old man nods. 

" And don't you occupy yourself at all ? " 

" I watch the fire and the boiling and the roasting " 

" When there is any,"" says Mr. George, with great 
expression. 

"Just so. When there is any/ 1 , 

" Don't you read, or get read to ? " 

The old man shakes his head with sharp sly triumph. 
"No, no. We have never been readers in our family. It 
don't pay. Stuff. Idleness. Folly. No, no ! " 

"There's not much to choose between your two states," 
says the visitor, in a key too low for the old man's dull 
hearing, as he looks from him to the old woman and back 
again. " I say ! " in a louder voice. 

" I hear you." 

" You'll sell me up at last, I suppose, when I am a day in 
arrear." 

" My dear friend ! " cries Grandfather Small weed, stretching 
out both hands to embrace him ! " Never ! Never, my dear 
friend ! But my friend in the city that I got to lend you 
the money lie might ! " 

" O ! you can't answer for him ? " says Mr. George ; finish 
ing the inquiry, in his lower key, with the words " you lying 
old rascal ! " 

" My dear friend, he is not to be depended on. I wouldn't 
trust him. He will have his bond, my dear friend." 

"Devil doubt him," says Mr. George. Charley appearing 
with a tray, on which are the pipe, a small paper of tobacco, 
and the brandy-and-water, he asks her, "How do you come 
here ! you haven't got the family face," 

" I goes out to work, sir," returns Charley. 



A GOOD SHAKING. 361 

The trooper (if trooper he be or have been) takes her 
bonnet off, with a light touch for so strong a hand, and pats 
her on the head. " You give the house almost a wholesome 
look. It wants a bit of youth as much as it wants fresh air." 
Then he dismisses her, lights his pipe, and drinks to Mr. 
Smallweed's friend in the city the one solitary flight of that 
esteemed old gentleman's imagination. 

" So you think he might be hard upon me, eh ? " 

"I think he might I am afraid he would. I have known 
him do it," says Grandfather Smallweed, incautiously, 
"twenty times." 

Incautiously, because his stricken better-half, who has been 
dozing over the fire for some time, is instantly aroused and 
jabbers "Twenty thousand pounds, twenty twenty-pound 
notes in a money-box, twenty guineas, twenty million twenty 
per cent, twenty " and is then cut short by the flying 
cushion, which the visitor, to whom this singular experiment 
appears to be a novelty, snatches from her face as it crushes 
her in the usual manner. 

"You're a brimstone idiot. You're a scorpion a brim 
stone scorpion ! You're a sweltering toad. You're a chatter 
ing clattering broomstick witch, that ought to be burnt ! " 
gasps the old man, prostrate in his chair. "My dear friend, 
will you shake me up a little ? " 

Mr. George, who has been looking first at one of them and 
then at the other, as if he were demented, takes his venerable 
acquaintance by the throat on receiving this request, and 
dragging him upright in his chair as easily as if he were a 
doll, appears in two minds whether or no to shake all future 
power of cushioning out of him, and shake him into his grave. 
Resisting the temptation, but agitating him violently enough 
to make his head roll like a harlequin's, he puts him smartly 
down in his chair again, and adjusts his skull-cap with such 
a rub, that the old man winks with both eyes for a minute 
afterwards. 

"0 Lord!" gasps Mr. Smallweed. "That'll do. Thank 



362 BLEAK HOUSE. 

you, my dear friend, that'll do. O dear me, I'm out of 
breath. O Lord ! " And Mr. Small weed says it, not without 
evident apprehensions of his dear friend, who still stands over 
him looming larger than ever. 

The alarming presence, however, gradually subsides into its 
chair, and falls to smoking in long puffs ; consoling itself with 
the philosophical reflection, " The name of your friend in the 
city begins with a D, comrade, and you're about right re 
specting the bond.'* 1 

"Did you speak, Mr. George ?" inquires the old man. 

The trooper shakes his head ; and leaning forward with his 
right elbow on his right knee and his pipe supported in that 
hand, while his other hand, resting on his left leg, squares 
his left elbow in a martial manner, continues to smoke. Mean 
while he looks at Mr. Smallweed with grave attention, and 
now and then fans the cloud of smoke away, in order that he 
may see him the more clearly. 

"I take it," he says, making just as much and as little 
change in his position as will enable him to reach the glass to 
his lips, with a round, full action, " that I am the only man 
alive (or dead either), that gets the value of a pipe out of 
you?" 

" Well ! " returns the old man, " it's true that I don't see 
company, Mr. George, and that I don't treat. I can't afford 
to it. But as you, in your pleasant way, made your pipe a 
condition " 

" Why, it's not for the value of it ; that's no great thing. 
It was a fancy to get it out of you. To have something in 
for my money." 

" Ha ! You're prudent, prudent, sir ! " cries Grandfather 
Smallweed, rubbing his legs. 

"Very. I always was." Puff. "It's a sure sign of my 
prudence, that I ever found the way here." Puff. "Also, 
that I am what I am." Puff. "I am well known to be 
prudent," says Mr. George, composedly smoking. "I rose in 
life, that way." 



ABOUT CAPTAIN HAWDON. 363 

"Don't be down-hearted, sir. You may rise yet." 

Mr. George laughs and drinks. 

"HaVt you no relations, now, 11 asks Grandfather Small- 
weed, with a twinkle in his eyes, " who would pay off this 
little principal, or who would lend you a good name or two 
that I could persuade my friend in the city to make you a 
further advance upon? Two good names would be sufficient 
for my friend in the city. HaVt you no such relations, Mr. 
George?" 

Mr. George, still composedly smoking, replies, " If I had, I 
shouldn't trouble them. I have been trouble enough to my 
belongings in my day. It man be a very good sort of 
penitence in a vagabond, who has wasted the best time of 
his life, to go back then to decent people that he never was 
a credit to, and live upon them ; but it's not my sort. The 
best kind of amends then, for having gone away, is to keep 
away, in my opinion." 

"But natural affection, Mr. George," hints Grandfather 
Small weed. 

" For two good names, hey ? " says Mr. George, shaking his 
head, and still composedly smoking. " No. That's not my 
sort, either." 

Grandfather Smallweed has been gradually sliding down in 
his chair since his last adjustment, and is now a bundle of 
clothes, with a voice in it calling for Judy. That Houri 
appearing, shakes him up in the usual manner, and is charged 
by the old gentleman to remain near him. For he seems 
chary of putting his visitor to the trouble of repeating his 
late attentions. 

"Ha!" he observes, when he is in trim again. "If you 
could have traced out the Captain, Mr. George, it would 
have been the making of you. If, when you first came here, 
in consequence of our advertisements in the newspapers when 
I say ' our,' I'm alluding to the advertisements of my friend in 
the city, and one or two others who embark their capital in 
the same way, and are so friendly towards me as sometimes 



364 BLEAK HOUSE. 

to give me a lift with my little pittance if, at that time, 
you could have helped us, Mr. George, it would have been 
the making of you." 

"I was willing enough to be 'made,' as you call it," says 
Mr. George, smoking not quite so placidly as before, for since 
the entrance of Judy he has been in some measure disturbed 
by a fascination, not of the admiring kind, which obliges him 
to look at her as she stands by her grandfather's chair ; " but, 
on the whole, I am glad I wasn't now." 

" Why, Mr. George ? In the name of of Brimstone, why ? 
says Grandfather Smallweed, with a plain appearance of 
exasperation. (Brimstone apparently suggested by his eye 
lighting on Mrs. Smallweed in her slumber.) 

"For two reasons, comrade." 

"And what two reasons, Mr. George? In the name of 
the " 

" Of our friend in the city ? " suggests Mr. George, com 
posedly drinking. 

" Ay, if you like. What two reasons ? " 

"In the first place," returns Mr. George; but still looking 
at Judy, as if, she being so old and so like her grand 
father, it is indifferent which of the two he addresses; 
"you gentlemen took me in. You advertised that Mr. 
Hawdon (Captain Hawdon, if you hold to the saying, Once 
a captain always a captain) was to hear of something to his 
advantage." 

" Well ? " returns the old man, shrilly and sharply. 

" Well ! " says Mr. George, smoking on. " It wouldn't have 
been much to his advantage to have been clapped into prison 
by the whole bill and judgment trade of London." 

" How do you know that ? Some of his rich relations might 
have paid his debts, or compounded for 'em. Besides, he 
had taken us in. He owed us immense sums, all round. I 
would sooner have strangled him than had no return. If I 
sit here thinking of him," snarls the old man, holding up his 
impotent ten fingers, "I want to strangle him now," Ami 



THE CAPTAIN'S FRIENDS AND ENEMIES.. 363 

in a sudden access of fury, lie throws the cushion at the 
unoffending Mrs. Smallweed, but it passes harmlessly on one 
side of her chair. 

"I don't need to be told," returns the trooper, taking his 
pipe from his lips for a moment, and carrying his eyes back 
from following the progress of the cushion, to the pipe-bowl 
which is burning low, "that he carried on heavily and went 
to ruin. I have been at his right hand many a day, when he 
was charging upon ruin full-gallop. I was with him, when 
he was sick and well, rich and poor. I laid this hand upon 
him, after he had run through everything and broken down 
everything beneath him when he held a pistol to his 
head." 

"I wish he had let it off!" says the benevolent old man, 
"and blown his head into as many pieces as he owed 
pounds ! " 

" That would have been a smash indeed," returns the trooper 
coolly ; " any way, he had been young, hopeful, and handsome 
in the days gone by ; and I am glad I never found him, when 
he was neither, to lead to a result so much to his advantage. 
That's reason number one." 

" I hope number two's as good ? " snarls the old man. 

" Why, no. It's more of a selfish reason. If I had found 
him, I must have gone to the other world to look. He was 
there." 

"How do you know he was there? 1 ' 

"He wasn't here." 

"How do you know he wasn't here?" 

"Don't lose your temper as well as your money," says 
Mr. George, calmly knocking the ashes out of his pipe. 
"He was drowned long before. I am convinced of it. He 
went over a ship's side. Whether intentionally or accidentally, 
I don't know. Perhaps your friend in the city does. Do 
you know what that tune is, Mr. Smallweed ? " he adds, after 
breaking off to whistle one, accompanied on the table with 
the empty pipe. 



366 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Tune ! " replies the old man. " No. We never have 
tunes here." 

"That's the Dead March in Saul. They bury soldiers 
to it; so it's the natural end of the subject. Now, if your 
pretty grand-daughter excuse me, miss will condescend to 
take care of this pipe for two months, we shall save the cost 
of one next time. Good evening, Mr. Smallweed ! " 

" My dear friend ! " The old man gives him both his 
hands. 

"So you think your friend in the city will be hard upon 
me, if I fail in a payment ? " says the trooper, looking down 
upon him like a giant. 

" My dear friend, I am afraid he will," returns the old man, 
looking up at him like a pigmy. 

Mr. George laughs; and with a glance at Mr. Smallweed, 
and a parting salutation to the scornful Judy, strides out 
of the parlour, clashing imaginary sabres and other metallic 
appurtenances as he goes. 

" You're a damned rogue," says the old gentleman, making 
a hideous grimace at the door as he shuts it. " But I'll lime 
you, you dog, I'll lime you ! " 

After this amiable remark, his spirit soars into those 
enchanting regions of reflection which its education and 
pursuits have opened to it ; and again he and Mrs. Smallweed 
while away the rosy hours, two unrelieved sentinels forgotten 
as aforesaid by the Black Serjeant. 

While the twain are faithful to their post, Mr. George 
strides through the streets with a massive kind of swagger 
and a grave-enough face. It is eight o'clock now, and the 
day is fast drawing in. He stops hard by Waterloo Bridge, 
and reads a playbill ; decides to go to Astley's Theatre. 
Being there, is much delighted with the horses and the feats 
of strength; looks at the weapons with a critical eye; dis 
approves of the combats, as giving evidences of unskilful 
swordsmanship; but is touched home by the sentiments. In 
the last scene, when the Emperor of Tartary gets up into a 



GEORGE'S SHOOTING GALLERY. 367 

cart and condescends to bless the united lovers by hovering 
over them with the Union-Jack, his eye-lashes are moistened 
with emotion. 

The theatre over, Mr. George conies across the water again, 
and makes his way to that curious region lying about the 
Haymarket and Leicester Square, which is a centre of attraction 
to indifferent foreign hotels and indifferent foreigners, racket- 
courts, fighting-men, swordsmen, footguards, old china, 
gaming-houses, exhibitions, and a large medley of shabbiness 
and shrinking out of sight. Penetrating to the heart of this 
region, he arrives, by a court and a long whitewashed passage, 
at a great brick building, composed of bare walls, floors, roof- 
rafters, and skylights ; on the front of which, if it can 
be said to have any front, is painted GEORGE'S SHOOTING 
GALLERY, &c. 

Into George's Shooting Gallery, &c., he goes ; and in it 
there are gas-lights (partly turned off now), and two whitened 
targets for rifle-shooting, and archery accommodation, and 
fencing appliances, and all necessaries for the British art of 
boxing. None of these sports or exercises being pursued in 
George's Shooting Gallery to-night; which is so devoid of 
company, that a little grotesque man, with a large head, has 
it all to himself, and lies asleep upon the floor. 

The little man is dressed something like a gunsmith, in 
a green baize apron and cap; and his face and hands are 
dirty with gunpowder, and begrimed with the loading 
of guns. As he lies in the light, before a glaring white 
target, the black upon him shines again. Not far off, is the 
strong, rough, primitive table, with a vice upon it, at which 
he has been working. He is a little man with a face all 
crushed together, who appears, from a certain blue and 
speckled appearance that one of his cheeks presents, to have 
been blown up, in the way of business, at some odd time 
or times. 

" Phil ! " says the trooper, in a quiet voice. 
"All right!" cries Phil, scrambling to his feet. 



368 BLEAK MOUSE. 

"Anything been doing?" 

"Flat as ever so much swipes," says Phil. "Five dozen 
rifle and a dozen pistol. As to aim ! " Phil gives a howl at 
the recollection. 

" Shut up shop, Phil ! " 

As Phil moves about to execute this order, it appears that 
he is lame, though able to move very quickly. On the 
speckled side of his face he has no eyebrow, and on the other 
side he has a bushy black one, which want of uniformity 
gives him a very singular and rather sinister appearance. 
Everything seems to have happened to his hands that could 
possibly take place, consistently with the retention of all the 
lingers ; for they are notched, and seamed, and crumpled all 
over. He appears to be very strong, and lifts heavy benches 
about as if he had no idea what weight was. He has a curious 
way of limping round the gallery with his shoulder against 
the wall, and tacking off at objects he wants to lay hold of, 
instead of going straight to them, which has left a smear all 
round the four walls, conventionally called "Phil's mark." 

This custodian of George's Gallery in George's absence con 
cludes his proceedings, when he has locked the great doors, 
and turned out all the lights but one, which he leaves to 
glimmer, by dragging out from a wooden cabin in a corner 
two mattresses and bedding. These being drawn to opposite 
ends of the gallery, the trooper makes his own bed, and Phil 
makes his. 

" Phil ! " says the master, walking towards him without his 
coat and waistcoat, and looking more soldierly than ever 
in his braces. "You were found in a doorway, weren't 
you?" 

" Gutter," says Phil. " Watchman tumbled over me." 

"Then, vagabondizing came natural to you, from the 
beginning." 

"As nat'ral as possible," says Phil. 

" Good night ! " 

" Good night, guv'ner." 



RETIRING TO REST. 369 

Phil cannot even go straight to bed, but finds it necessary 
to shoulder round two sides of the gallery, and then tack off 
at his mattress. The trooper, after taking a turn or two in 
the rifle-distance, and looking up at the moon now shining 
through the skylights, strides to his own mattress by a shorter 
route, and goes to bed too. 



VOL. i, o B 



CHAPTER XXII. 

MR. BUCKET. 

ALLEGORY looks pretty cool in Lincoln's Inn Fields, though 
the evening is hot; for, both Mr. Tulkinghorn's windows are 
wide open, and the room is lofty, gusty, and gloomy. These 
may not be desirable characteristics when November comes 
with fog and sleet, or January with ice and snow ; but they 
have their merits in the sultry long vacation weather. They 
enable Allegory, though it has cheeks like peaches, and knees 
like bunches of blossoms, and rosy swellings for calves to its 
legs and muscles to its arms, to look tolerably cool to-night. 

Plenty of dust comes in at Mr. Tulkinghorn's windows, and 
plenty more has generated among his furniture and papers. 
It lies thick everywhere. When a breeze from the country 
that has lost its way, takes fright, and makes a blind hurry 
to rush out again, it flings as much dust in the eyes of 
Allegory as the law or Mr. Tulkinghorn, one of its trustiest 
representatives may scatter, on occasion, in the eyes of the 
laity. 

In his lowering magazine of dust, the universal article into 
which his papers and himself, and all his clients, and all 
things of earth, animate and inanimate, are resolving, Mr. 
Tulkinghorn sits at one of the open windows, enjoying a 
bottle of old port. Though a hard-grained man, close, dry, 
and silent, he can enjoy old wine with the best. He has a 
priceless binn of port in some artful cellar under the Fields, 



MR. TULKINGHORN AND MR. SNAGSBY. 371 

which is one of his many secrets. When he dines alone in 
chambers, as he has dined to-day, and has his bit of fish and 
his steak or chicken brought in from the coffee-house, he 
descends with a candle to the echoing regions below the deserted 
mansion, and, heralded by a remote reverberation of thundering 
doors, comes gravely back, encircled by an earthy atmosphere, 
and carrying a bottle from which he pours a radiant nectar, 
two score and ten years old, that blushes in the glass to find 
itself so famous, and fills the whole room with the fragrance 
of southern grapes. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn, sitting in the twilight by the open window, 
enjoys his wine. As if it whispered to him of its fifty years 
of silence and seclusion, it shuts him up the closer. More 
impenetrable than ever, he sits, and drinks, and mellows as 
it were, in secrecy; pondering, at that twilight hour, on all 
the mysteries he knows, associated with darkening woods in 
the country, and vast blank shut-up houses in town : and 
perhaps sparing a thought or two for himself, and his family 
history, and his money, and his will all a mystery to every 
one and that one bachelor friend of his, a man of the 
same mould and a lawyer too, who lived the same kind of life 
until he was seventy-five years old, and then, suddenly con 
ceiving (as it is supposed) an impression that it was too 
monotonous, gave his gold watch to his hair-dresser one 
summer evening, and walked leisurely home to the Temple, 
and hanged himself. 

But, Mr. Tulkinghorn is not alone to-night, to ponder at 
his usual length. Seated at the same table, though with his 
chair modestly and uncomfortably drawn a little way from 
it, sits a bald, mild, shining man, who coughs respectfully 
behind his hand when the lawyer bids him fill his glass. 

"Now, Snagsby," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, "to go over this 
odd story again." 

" If you please, sir. 1 ' 

"You told me when you were so good as to step round 
here, last night " 



372 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"For which I must ask you to excuse me if it was a 
liberty, sir; but I remember that you had taken a sort of 
an interest in that person, and I thought it possible that 
you might just wish to " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn is not the man to help him to any con 
clusion, or to admit anything as to any possibility concerning 
himself. So Mr. Snagsby trails off into saying, with an 
awkward cough, "I must ask you to excuse the liberty, sir, 
I am sure. 1 ' 

"Not at all," says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "You told me, 
Snagsby, that you put on your hat and came round without 
mentioning your intention to your wife. That was prudent, 
I think, because it's not a matter of such importance that it 
requires to be mentioned." 

" Well, sir,"" returns Mr. Snagsby, " you see my little woman 
j s not to put too fine a point upon it inquisitive. She's 
inquisitive. Poor little thing, she's liable to spasms, and it's 
good for her to have her mind employed. In consequence 
of which she employs it I should say upon every individual 
thing she can lay hold of, whether it concerns her or not 
especially not. My little woman has a very active mind, sir." 

Mr. Snagsby drinks, and murmurs with an admiring cough 
behind his hand, " Dear me, very fine wine indeed ! " 

"Therefore you kept your visit to yourself, last night?" 
says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "And to-night, too?" 

" Yes, sir, and to-night, too. My little woman is at present 
in not to put too fine a point on it in a pious state, or in 
what she considers such, and attends the Evening Exertions 
(which is the name they go by) of a reverend party of the 
name of Chadband. He has a great deal of eloquence at his 
command, undoubtedly, but I am not quite favourable to his 
style myself. That's neither here nor there. My little woman 
being engaged in that way, made it easier for me to step 
round in a quiet manner." 

Mr. Tulkinghorn assents. " Fill your glass, Snagsby." 

"Thank you, sir, I am sure," returns the stationer, with 



ONLY MR. BUCKET. 373 

his cough of deference. "This is wonderfully fine wine, 
sir ! " 

"It is a rare wine now," says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "It is 
fifty years old." 

" Is it indeed, sir ? But I am not surprised to hear it, I 
am sure. It might be any age almost." After rendering 
this general tribute to the port, Mr. Snagsby in his modesty 
coughs an apology behind his hand for drinking anything so 
precious. 

"Will you run over, once again, what the boy said?" 
asks Mr. Tulkinghorn, putting his hands into the pockets 
of his rusty small-clothes and leaning quietly back in his 
chair. 

" With pleasure, sir." 

Then, with fidelity, though with some prolixity, the law- 
stationer repeats Jo's statement made to the assembled guests 
at his house. On coming to the end of his narrative, he 
gives a great start, and breaks off with "Dear me, sir, I 
wasn't aware there was any other gentleman present ! " 

Mr. Snagsby is dismayed to see, standing with an attentive 
face between himself and the lawyer, at a little distance from 
the table, a person with a hat and stick in his hand, who was 
not there when he himself came in, and has not since entered 
by the door or by either of the windows. There is a press 
in the room, but its hinges have not creaked, nor has a step 
been audible upon the floor. Yet this third person stands 
there, with his attentive face, and his hat and stick in his 
hands, and his hands behind him, a composed and quiet 
listener. He is a stoutly built, steady-looking, sharp-eyed 
man in black, of about the middle-age. Except that he 
looks at Mr. Snagsby as if he were going to take his portrait, 
there is nothing remarkable about him at first sight but his 
ghostly manner of appearing. 

"Don't mind this gentleman," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, in 
his quiet way. " This is only Mr. Bucket." 

"O indeed, sir?" returns the stationer, expressing by a 



374 BLEAK HOUSE. 

cough that he is quite in the dark as to who Mr. Bucket 
may be. 

"I wanted him to hear this story," says the lawyer, 
" because I have half a mind (for a reason) to know more of 
it, and he is very intelligent in such things. What do you 
say to this, Bucket ? " 

"It's very plain, sir. Since our people have moved this 
boy on, and he's not to be found on his old lay, if Mr. 
Snagsby don't object to go down with me to Tom-all- Alone's 
and point him out, we can have him here in less than a 
couple of hours' time. I can do it without Mr. Snagsby, of 
course ; but this is the shortest way." 

"Mr. Bucket is a detective officer, Snagsby," says the 
lawyer in explanation. 

"Is he, indeed, sir?" says Mr. Snagsby, with a strong 
tendency in his clump of hair to stand on end. 

" And if you have no real objection to accompany Mr. 
Bucket to the place in question," pursues the lawyer, " I shall 
feel obliged to you if you will do so." 

In a moment's hesitation on the part of Mr. Snagsby, 
Bucket dips down to the bottom of his mind. 

" Don't you be afraid of hurting the boy," he says. " Yoi 
won't do that. It's all right as far as the boy's concei 
We shall only bring him here to ask him a question or so 
want to put to him, and he'll be paid for his trouble, ai 
sent away again. It'll be a good job for him. I promi 
you, as a man, that you shall see the boy sent away all righl 
Don't you be afraid of hurting him ; you an't going to 
that." 

" Very well, Mr. Tulkinghorn ! " cries Mr. Snagsby cheer 
fully, and reassured, "since that's the case " 

" Yes ! and lookee here, Mr. Snagsby," resumes Buckel 
taking him aside by the arm, tapping him familiarly on tl 
breast, and speaking in a confidential tone. " You're a man 
of the world, you know, and a man of business, and a 
of sense. That's what you are." 



THE MATTER TO BE KEPT QUIET. 375 

"I am sure I am much obliged to you for your good 
opinion, 1 " returns the stationer, with his cough of modesty, 



" That's what you are, you know, 1 ' says Bucket. " Now, it 
an't necessary to say to a man like you, engaged in your 
business, which is a business of trust and requires a person 
to be wide awake and have his senses about him, and his 
head screwed on tight (I had an uncle in your business once) 
it an't necessary to say to a man like you, that it's the 
best and wisest way to keep little matters like this quiet. 
Don't you see ? Quiet ! " 

"Certainly, certainly," returns the other. 

"I don't mind telling you? says Bucket, with an engaging 
appearance of frankness, "that as far as I can understand it, 
there seems to be a doubt whether this dead person wasn't 
entitled to a little property, and whether this female hasn't 
been up to some games respecting that property, don't you 
see?" 

" O ! " says Mr. Snagsby, but not appearing to see quite 
distinctly. 

" Now, what you want," pursues Bucket, again tapping Mr. 
Snagsby on the chest in a comfortable and soothing manner, 
" is, that every person should have their rights according to 
justice. That's what you want." 

"To be sure," returns Mr. Snagsby with a nod. 

" On account of which, and at the same time to oblige a 
do you call it, in your business, customer or client? I 
forget how my uncle used to call it." 

" Why, I generally say customer myself," replies Mr. Snagsby. 

"You're right!" returns Mr. Bucket, shaking hands with 
him quite affectionately, "on account of which, and at the 
same time to oblige a real good customer, you mean to go 
down with me, in confidence, to Tom-all- Alone's, and to keep 
the whole thing quiet ever afterwards and never mention it 
to any one. That's about your intentions, if I understand 
you ? " 



376 BLEAK MOUSE. 

" You are right, sir. You are right," says Mr. Snagsby. 

"Then here's your hat," returns his new friend, quite as 
intimate with it as if he had made it ; " and if you're ready, 
I am." 

They leave Mr. Tulkinghorn, without a ruffle on the surface 
of his unfathomable depths, drinking his old wine, and go 
down into the streets. 

" You don't happen to know a very good sort of person 
of the name of Gridley, do you ? " says Bucket, in friendly 
converse as they descend the stairs. 

" No," says Mr. Snagsby, considering, " I don't know any 
body of that name. Why ? " 

" Nothing particular," says Bucket ; " only, having allowed 
his temper to get a little the better of him, and having 
been threatening some respectable people, he is keeping out 
of the way of a warrant I have got against him which it's 
a pity that a man of sense should do." 

As they walk along, Mr. Snagsby observes, as a novelty, 
that, however quick their pace may be, his companion still 
seems in some undefinable manner to lurk and lounge; also, 
that whenever he is going to turn to the right or left, he 
pretends to have a fixed purpose in his mind of going straight 
ahead, and wheels off, sharply, at the very last moment. Now 
and then, when they pass a police-constable on his beat, Mr. 
Snagsby notices that both the constable and his guide fall 
into a deep abstraction as they come towards each other, 
and appear entirely to overlook each other, and to gaze into 
space. In a few instances, Mr. Bucket, coming behind some 
under-sized young man with a shining hat on, and his sleek 
hair twisted into one flat curl on each side of his head, almost 
without glancing at him touches him with his stick; upon 
which the young man, looking round, instantly evaporates. 
For the most part Mr. Bucket notices things in general, with 
a face as unchanging as the great mourning ring on his little 
finger, or the brooch, composed of not much diamond and a 
good deal of setting, which he wears in his shirt. 



INQUIRY MADE FOR JO. 377 

When they come at last to Tom-all- Alone's, Mr. Bucket 
stops for a moment at the corner, and takes a lighted bull's- 
eye from the constable on duty there, who then accompanies 
him with his own particular bull's-eye at his waist. Between " 
his two conductors, Mr. Snagsby passes along the middle of 
a villainous street, undrained, unventilated, deep in black 
mud and corrupt water though the roads are dry elsewhere 
and reeking with such smells and sights that he, who has 
lived in London all his life, can scarce believe his senses^ 
Branching from this street and its heaps of ruins, are other 
streets and courts so infamous that Mr. Snagsby sickens in 
body and mind, and feels as if he were going, every moment 
deeper down, into the infernal gulf. 

"Draw off a bit here, Mr. Snagsby," says Bucket, as a 
kind of shabby palanquin is borne towards them, surrounded 
by a noisy crowd. " Here's the fever coming up the street ! " 

As the unseen wretch goes by, the crowd, leaving that 
object of attraction, hovers round the three visitors, like a 
dream of horrible faces, and fades away up alleys and into 
ruins, and behind walls ; and with occasional cries and shrill 
whistles of warning, thenceforth flits about them until they 
leave the place. 

"Are those the fever-houses, Darby?" Mr. Bucket coolly 
asks, as he turns his bull's-eye on a line of stinking ruins. 

Darby replies that "all them are," and further that in all, 
for months and months, the people " have been down by 
dozens," and have been carried out, dead and dying " like 
sheep with the rot." Bucket observing to Mr. Snagsby as 
they go on again, that he looks a little poorly, Mr. Snagsby 
answers that he feels as if he couldn't breathe the dreadful air. 

There is inquiry made, at various houses, for a boy named 
Jo. As few people are known in Tom-all-Alone's by any 
Christian sign, there is much reference to Mr. Snagsby 
whether he means Carrots, or the Colonel, or Gallows, or 
Young Chisel, or Terrier Tip, or Lanky, or the Brick. Mr. 
Snagsby describes over and over again. There are conflicting 



378 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



opinions respecting the original of his picture. Some think 
it must be Carrots; some say the Brick. The Colonel is 
produced, but is not at all near the thing. Whenever Mr, 
Snagsby and his conductors are stationary, the crowd flows 
round, and from its squalid depths obsequious advice heaves 
up to Mr. Bucket. Whenever they move, and the angry 
bull's-eyes glare, it fades away, and flits about them up the 
alleys, and in the ruins, and behind the walls, as before. 

At last there is a lair found out where Toughy, or the 
Tough Subject, lays him down at night ; and it is thought 
that the Tough Subject may be Jo. Comparison of notes 
between Mr. Snagsby and the proprietress of the house a 
drunken face tied up in a black bundle, and flaring out of a 
heap of rags on the floor of a dog-hutch which is her 
private apartment leads to the establishment of this con 
clusion. Toughy has gone to the Doctor's to get a bottle 
of stuff for a sick woman, but will be here anon. 

"And who have we got here to-night?" says Mr. Bucket, 
opening another door and glaring in with his bull's-eye. 
" Two drunken men, eh ? And two women ? The men 
are sound enough," turning back each sleeper's arm from 
his face to look at him. "Are these your good men, my 
dears ? " 

"Yes, sir," returns one of the women. "They are our 
husbands." 

" Brickmakers, eh ? " 

Yes, sir." 

" What are you doing here ? You don't belong to London.' 

" No, sir. We belong to Hertfordshire." 

"Whereabouts in Hertfordshire?" 

"Saint Albans." 

" Come up on the tramp ? " 

" We walked up yesterday. There's no work down with us 
at present, but we have done no good by coming here, and 
shall do none, I expect." 

" That's not the way to do much good," says Mr. Bucket, 



A MOTHER'S LOVE. 379 

turning his head in the direction of the unconscious figures 
on the ground. 

"It an't indeed," replies the woman with a sigh. "Jenny 
and me knows it full well." 

The room, though two or three feet higher than the door, 
is so low that the head of the tallest of the visitors would 
touch the blackened ceiling if he stood upright. It is 
offensive to every sense; even the gross candle burns pale 
and sickly in the polluted air. There are a couple of benches, 
and a higher bench by way of table. The men lie asleep 
where they stumbled down, but the women sit by the candle. 
Lying in the arms of the woman who has spoken, is a very 
young child. 

" Why, what age do you call that little creature ? " says 
Bucket. " It looks as if it was born yesterday." He is not 
at all rough about it; and as he turns his light gently on 
the infant, Mr. Snagsby is strangely reminded of another 
infant, encircled with light, that he has seen in pictures. 

"He is not three weeks old yet, sir," says the woman. 

" Is he your child ? " 

Mine." 

The other woman, who was bending over it when they 
came in, stoops down again, and kisses it as it lies asleep. 

" You seem as fond of it as if you were the mother your 
self," says Mr. Bucket. 

" I was the mother of one like it, master, and it died." 

" Ah, Jenny, Jenny ! " says the other woman to her ; " better 
so. Much better to think of dead than alive, Jenny ! Much 
better ! " 

" Why, you an't such an unnatural woman, I hope," returns 
Bucket, sternly, "as to wish your own child dead ? " 

"God knows you are right, master," she returns. "I am 
not. I'd stand between it and death, with my own life if 
I could, as true as any pretty lady." 

" Then don't talk in that wrong manner," says Mr. Bucket, 
mollified again. "Why do you do it?" 



380 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" It's brought into my head, master," returns the woman, 
her eyes filling with tears, " when I look down at the child 
lying so. If it was never to wake no more, you'd think me 
mad, I should take on so. I know that very well. I was 
with Jenny when she lost hers wam't I, Jenny ? and I 
know how she grieved. But look around you, at this place. 
Look at them ; " glancing at the sleepers on the ground. 
"Look at the boy you're waiting for, who's gone out to do 
me a good turn. Think of the children that your business 
lays with often and often, and that you see grow up ! " 

"Well, well," says Mr. Bucket, "you train him respect 
able, and he'll be a comfort to you, and look after you in 
your old age, you know."" 

" I mean to try hard," she answers, wiping her eyes. " But 
I have been a-thinking, being over-tired to-night, and not 
well with the ague, of all the many things that'll come in his 
way. My master will be against it, and he'll be beat, and 
see me beat, and made to fear his home, and perhaps to stray 
wild. If I work for him ever so much, and ever so hard, 
there's no one to help me; and if he should be turned bad, 
'spite of all I could do, and the time should come when I 
should sit by him in his sleep, made hard and changed, an't 
it likely I should think of him as he lies in my lap now, and 
wish he had died as Jenny's child died ! " 

" There, there ! " says Jenny. " Liz, you're tired and ill. 
Let me take him." 

In doing so, she displaces the mother's dress, but quickly 
readjusts it over the wounded and bruised bosom where the 
baby has been lying. 

" It's my dead child," says Jenny, walking up and down as 
she nurses, " that makes me love this child so dear, and it's 
my dead child that makes her love it so dear too, as even 
to think of its being taken away from her now. While she 
thinks that, / think what fortune would I give to have my 
darling back. But we mean the same thing, if we knew how 
to say it, us two mothers does in our poor hearts ! " 



ONLY A JOB FOR JO. 381 

As Mr. Snagsby blows his nose, and coughs his cough of 
sympathy, a step is heard without. Mr. Bucket throws his 
light into the doorway, and says to Mr. Snagsby, "Now, 
what do you say to Toughy ? Will lie do ? " 

" That's Jo," says Mr. Snagsby. 

Jo stands amazed in the disc of light, like a ragged figure 
in a magic-lanthorn, trembling to think that he has offended 
against the law in not having moved on far enough. Mr. 
Snagsby, however, giving him the consolatory assurance, " It's 
only a job you will be paid for, Jo," he recovers ; and, on 
being taken outside by Mr. Bucket for a little private con 
fabulation, tells his tale satisfactorily, though out of breath. 

" I have squared it with the lad," says Mr. Bucket, return 
ing, "and it's all right. Now, Mr. Snagsby, we're ready for 
you." 

First, Jo has to complete his errand of good-nature by 
handing over the physic he has been to get, which he delivers 
with the laconic verbal direction that "it's to be all took 
d'rectly." Secondly, Mr. Snagsby has to lay upon the table 
half-a-crown, his usual panacea for an immense variety of 
afflictions. Thirdly, Mr. Bucket has to take Jo by the arm 
a little above the elbow and walk him on before him : without 
which observance, neither the Tough Subject nor any other 
Subject could be professionally conducted to Lincoln's Inn 
\ Fields. These arrangements completed, they give the women 
good night, and come out once more into black and foul 
Tom-all- Alone's. 

By the noisome ways through which they descended into 
that pit, they gradually emerge from it; the crowd flitting, 
and whistling, and skulking about them, until they come to 
the verge, where restoration of the bull's-eyes is made to 
Darby. Here, the crowd, like a concourse of imprisoned 
demons, turns back, yelling, and is seen no more. Through 
the clearer and fresher streets, never so clear and fresh to Mr. 
Snagsby's mind as now, they walk and ride, until they come 
to Mr. Tulkinghorn's gate. 



382 BLEAK HOUSE. 

As they ascend the dim stairs (Mr. Tulkinghorn's chambers 
being on the first floor), Mr. Bucket mentions that he has 
the key of the outer door in his pocket, and that there is no 
need to ring. For a man so expert in most things of that 
kind, Bucket takes time to open the door, and makes some 
noise too. It may be that he sounds a note of preparation. 

Howbeit, they come at last into the hall, where a lamp 
is burning, and so into Mr. Tulkinghorn's usual room the 
room where he drank his old wine to-night. He is not 
there, but his two old-fashioned candlesticks are ; and the 
room is tolerably light. 

Mr. Bucket, still having his professional hold of Jo, and 
appealing to Mr. Snagsby to possess an unlimited number of 
eyes, makes a little way into this room, when Jo starts and 
stops. 

" What's the matter ? " says Bucket in a whisper. 

" There she is ! " cries Jo. 

"Who!" 

"The lady!" 

A female figure, closely veiled, stands in the middle of the 
room, where the light falls upon it. It is quite still, and 
silent. The front of the figure is towards them, but it takes 
no notice of their entrance, and remains like a statue. 

"Now, tell me," says Bucket aloud, "how you know that 
to be the lady." 

"I know the wale," replies Jo, staring, "and the bonnet, 
and the gownd." 

"Be quite sure of what you say, Tough," returns Bucket, 
narrowly observant of him. " Look again." 

" I am a-looking as hard as ever I can look," says Jo, with 
starting eyes, " and that there's the wale, the bonnet, and the 
gownd." 

"What about those rings you told me of?" asks Bucket. 

" A-sparkling all over here," says Jo, rubbing the fingers 
of his left hand on the knuckles of his right, without taking 
his eyes from the figure. 



THE VEILED FIGURE. 383 

The figure removes the right-hand glove^ and shows the 
hand. 

" Now, what do you say to that ? " asks Bucket. 

Jo shakes his head. "Not rings a bit like them. Not a 
hand like that." 

" What are you talking of?" says Bucket ; evidently pleased 
though, and well pleased too. 

"Hand was a deal whiter, a deal delicater, and a deal 
smaller," 1 ' returns Jo. 

"Why, you'll tell me Fin my own mother next," says Mr. 
Bucket. " Do you recollect the lady's voice ? " 

" I think I does," says Jo. 

The figure speaks. " Was it at all like this ? I will speak 
as long as you like if you are not sure. Was it this voice, 
or at all like this voice ? " 

Jo looks aghast at Mr. Bucket. " Not a bit ! " 

" Then, what," retorts that worthy, pointing to the figure, 
" did you say it was the lady for ? " 

"Cos," says Jo, with a perplexed stare, but without being 
at all shaken in his certainty, " Cos that there's the wale, the 
bonnet, and the gownd. It is her and it an't her. It an't 
her hand, nor yet her rings, nor yet her woice. But that 
there's the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd, and they're wore 
the same way wot she wore 'em, and it's her height wot she 
wos, and she giv me a sov'ring and hooked it." 

" Well ! " says Mr. Bucket, slightly, " we haven't got much 
good out of you. But, however, here's five shillings for you. 
Take care how you spend it, and don't get yourself into 
trouble." Bucket stealthily tells the coins from one hand 
into the other like counters which is a way he has, his 
principal use of them being in -these games of skill and then 
puts them, in a little pile, into the boy's hand, and takes him 
out to the door; leaving Mr. Snagsby, not by any means 
comfortable under these mysterious circumstances, alone with 
the veiled figure. But on Mr. Tulkinghorn's coming into 
the room, the veil is raised, and a sufficiently good-looking 



384 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Frenchwoman is revealed, though her expression is something 
of the intensest. 

"Thank you, Mademoiselle Hortense," says Mr. Tulking- 
horn, with his usual equanimity. " I will give you no further 
trouble about this little wager/' 

" You will do me the kindness to remember, sir, that I am 
not at present placed ? " says Mademoiselle. 

" Certainly, certainly ! " 

"And to confer upon me the favour of your distinguished 
recommendation ? " 

" By all means, Mademoiselle Hortense." 

"A word from Mr. Tulkinghorn is so powerful. 1 ' 1 "It 
shall not be wanting, Mademoiselle." " Receive the assurance 
of my devoted gratitude, dear sir."" "Good night." Made 
moiselle goes out with an air of native gentility; and Mr. 
Bucket, to whom it is, on an emergency, as natural to be 
groom of the ceremonies as it is to be anything else, shows 
her down-stairs, not without gallantry. 

" Well, Bucket ? " quoth Mr. Tulkinghorn, on his return. 

"It's all squared, you see, as I squared it myself, sir. 
There an't a doubt that it was the other one with this one's 
dress on. The boy was exact respecting colours and every 
thing. Mr. Snagsby, I promised you as a man that he 
should be sent away all right. Don't say it wasn't done ! " 

" You have kept your word, sir," returns the stationer ; 
" and if I can be of no further use, Mr. Tulkinghorn, I think, 
as my little woman will be getting anxious " 

"Thank you, Snagsby, no further use," says Mr. Tulking 
horn. " I am quite indebted to you for the trouble you 
have taken already." 

"Not at all, sir. I wish you good night." 

"You see, Mr. Snagsby," says Mr. Bucket, accompanying 
him to the door, and shaking hands with him over and 
over again, " what I like in you is, that you're a man it's of 
no use pumping; that's what yvu are. When you know 
you have done a right thing, you put it away, and it's 



ANXIETY OF MRS. SNAGSBY. 385 

done with and gone, and there's an end of it. That's what 

you do." 

"That is certainly what I endeavour to do, sir," returns 

Mr. Snagsby. 

" No, you don't do yourself justice. It an't what you 

endeavour to do," says Mr. Bucket, shaking hands with him 

and blessing him in the tenderest manner, "it's what you 

do. That's what I estimate in a man in your way of 

business." 

Mr. Snagsby makes a suitable response; and goes home 
ward so confused by the events of the evening, that he is 
doubtful of his being awake and out doubtful of the reality 
of the streets through which he goes doubtful of the reality 
of the moon that shines above him. He is presently re 
assured on these subjects, by the unchallengeable reality of 
Mrs. Snagsby, sitting up with her head in a perfect beehive 
of curl-papers and nightcap : who has despatched Guster to 
the police-station with official intelligence of her husband's 
being made away with, and who, within the last two hours, 
has passed through every stage of swooning with the greatest 
decorum. But, as the little woman feelingly says, many 
thanks she gets for it ! 



VOL. i. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



WE came home from Mr. Boythorn's after six pleasant 
weeks. We were often in the park, and in the woods, and 
seldom passed the Lodge where we had taken shelter without 
looking in to speak to the keeper's wife ; but we saw no more 
of Lady Dedlock, except at church on Sundays. There was 
company at Chesney Wold ; and although several beautiful 
faces surrounded her, her face retained the same influence 
on me as at first. I do not quite know, even now, whether 
it was painful or pleasurable ; whether it drew me towards 
her, or made me shrink from her. I think I admired her 
with a kind of fear ; and I know that in her presence my 
thoughts always wandered back, as they had done at first, 
to that old time of my life. 

I had a fancy, on more than one of these Sundays, that 
what this lady so curiously was to me, I was to her I mean 
that I disturbed her thoughts as she influenced mine, though 
in some different way. But when I stole a glance at her, 
and saw her so composed and distant and unapproachable, 
I felt this to be a foolish weakness. Indeed, I felt the 
whole state of my mind in reference to her to be weak and 
unreasonable ; and I remonstrated with myself about it as 
much as I could. 

One incident that occurred before we quitted Mr. Boy- 
thorn's hpuse, I had better mention in this place. 



MADEMOISELLE HORTENSE. 387 

I was walking in the garden with Ada, when I was told 
that some one wished to see me. Going into the breakfast- 
room, where this person was waiting, I found it to be the 
French maid who had cast off her shoes and walked through 
the wet grass, on the day when it thundered and lightened. 

"Mademoiselle," she began, looking fixedly at me with 
her too-eager eyes, though otherwise presenting an agreeable 
appearance, and speaking neither with boldness nor servility, 
"I have taken a great liberty in coming here, but you know 
how to excuse it, being so amiable, mademoiselle.'" 

"No excuse is necessary," I returned, "if you wish to 
speak to me." 

"That is my desire, mademoiselle. A thousand thanks 
for the permission. I have" your leave to speak. Is it not?" 
she said, in a quick, natural way. 

" Certainly," said I. 

"Mademoiselle, you are so amiable! Listen then, if you 
please. I have left my Lady. We could not agree. My 
Lady is so high ; so very high. Pardon ! Mademoiselle, you 
are right!" Her quickness anticipated what I might have 
said presently, but as yet had only thought. " It is not for 
me to come here to complain of my Lady. But I say she 
is so high, so very high. I will not say a word more. All 
the world knows that." 

" Go on, if you please," said I. 

"Assuredly; mademoiselle, I am thankful for your polite 
ness. Mademoiselle, I have an inexpressible desire to find 
service with a young lady who is good, accomplished, beauti 
ful. You are good, accomplished, and beautiful as an angel. 
Ah, could I have the honour of being your domestic ! " 

" I am sorry " I began. 

" Do not dismiss me so soon, mademoiselle ! " she said, with 
an involuntary contraction of her fine black eyebrows. " Let 
me hope, a moment! Mademoiselle, I know this service 
would be more retired than that which I have quitted. 
Well ! I wish that. I know this service would be less 



388 BLEAK HOUSE. 

distinguished than that which I have quitted. Well ! I wish 
that. I know that I should win less, as to wages here. 
Good. I am content." 

"I assure you," said I, quite embarrassed by the mere 
idea of having such an attendant, " that I keep no maid " 

"Ah, mademoiselle, but why not? Why not, when you 
can have one so devoted to you ! Who would be enchanted 
to serve you ; who would be so true, so zealous, and so 
faithful, every day ! Mademoiselle, I wish with all my heart 
to serve you. Do not speak of money at present. Take 
me as I am. For nothing ! " 

She was so singularly earnest that I drew back, almost 
afraid of her. Without appearing to notice it, in her ardour 
she still pressed herself upon me; speaking in a rapid sub 
dued voice, though always with a certain grace and propriety. 

" Mademoiselle, I come from the South country, where we 
are quick, and where we like and dislike very strong. My 
Lady was too high for me; I was too high for her. It is 
done past finished ! Receive me as your domestic, and I 
will serve you well. I will do more for you, than you figure 
to yourself now. Chut ! mademoiselle, I will no matter, 
I will do my utmost possible, in all things. If you accept 
my service, you will not repent it. Mademoiselle, you will 
not repent it, and I will serve you well. You don't know 
how well ! 

There was a lowering energy in her face, as she stood 
looking at me while I explained the impossibility of my 
engaging her (without thinking it necessary to say how very 
little I desired to do so), which seemed to bring visibly before 
me some woman from the streets of Paris in the reign of 
terror. She heard me out without interruption ; and then 
said, with her pretty accent, and in her mildest voice : 

" Hey, mademoiselle, I have received my answer ! I am 
sorry of it. But I must go elsewhere, and seek what I have 
not found here. Will you graciously let me kiss your 
hand?" 



SINKING INTO A CHANCERY SUITOR. 389 

She looked at me more intently as she took it, and seemed 
to take note, with her momentary touch, of every vein in it. 
"I fear I surprised you, mademoiselle, on the day of the 
storm ? " she said with a parting curtsey. 

I confessed that she had surprised us all. 

" I took an oath, mademoiselle, 1 ' she said, smiling, " and 
I wanted to stamp it on my mind, so that I might keep it 
faithfully. And I will ! Adieu, mademoiselle ! " 

So ended our conference, which I was very glad to bring 
to a close. I supposed she went away from the village, 
for I saw her no more ; and nothing else occurred to disturb 
our tranquil summer pleasures, until six weeks were out, and 
we returned home as I began just now by saying. 

At that time, and for a good many weeks after that time, 
Richard was constant in his visits. Besides coming every 
Saturday or Sunday, and remaining with us until Monday 
morning, he sometimes rode out on horseback unexpectedly, 
and passed the evening with us, and rode back again early 
next day. He was as vivacious as ever, and told us he was 
very industrious ; but I was not easy in my mind about him. 
It appeared to me that his industry was all misdirected. I 
could not find that it led to anything but the formation of 
delusive hopes in connexion with the suit already the 
pernicious cause of so much sorrow arid ruin. He had got 
at the core of that mystery now, he told us; and nothing 
could be plainer than that the will under which he and Ada 
were to take, I don't know how many thousands of pounds, must 
be finally established, if there were any sense or justice in the 
Court of Chancery but O what a great //"that sounded in 
my ears and that this happy conclusion could not be much 
longer delayed. He proved this to himself by all the weary 
arguments on that side he had read, and every one of them 
sunk him deeper in the infatuation. He had even begun 
to haunt the Court. He told us how he saw Miss Flite there 
daily ; how they talked together, and how he did her little 
kindnesses ; and how, while he laughed at her, he pitied her 



390 BLEAK HOUSE. 

from his heart. But he never thought never, my poor, dear, 
sanguine Richard, capable of so much happiness then, and 
with such better things before him ! what a fatal link was 
riveting between his fresh youth and her faded age ; between 
his free hopes and her caged birds, and her hungry garret, and 
her wandering mind. 

Ada loved him too well, to mistrust him much in anything 
he said or did, and my guardian, though he frequently com 
plained of the east wind and read more than usual in the 
Growlery, preserved a strict silence on the subject. So, I 
thought, one day when I went to London to meet Caddy 
Jellyby, at her solicitation, I would ask Richard to be in 
waiting for me at the coach-office, that we might have a 
little talk together. I found him there when I arrived, and 
we walked away arm in arm. 

" Well, Richard," said I, as soon as I could begin to be 
grave with him, " are you beginning to feel more settled 
now ? " 

" O yes, my dear ! " returned Richard. " Tm all right 
enough."" 

" But settled ? " said I. 

" How do you mean, settled ? " returned Richard, with his 
gay laugh. 

"Settled in the law," said I. 

" O aye," replied Richard, " Fin all right enough." 

"You said that before, my dear Richard." 

" And you don't think it's an answer, eh ? Well ! Perhaps 
it's not. Settled ? You mean, do I feel as if I were settling 
down?" 

" Yes." 

" Why, no, I can't say I am settling down," said Richard, 
strongly emphasising " down," as if that expressed the 
difficulty ; " because one can't settle down while this business 
remains in such an unsettled state. When I say this business, 
of course I mean the forbidden subject." 

"Do you think it will ever be in a settled state?" said I. 



NOT QUITE SETTLED YET. 391 

" Not the least doubt of it," answered Richard. 

We walked a little way without speaking; and presently 
Richard addressed me in his frankest and most feeling 
manner, thus : 

" My dear Esther, I understand you, and I wish to Heaven 
I were a more constant sort of fellow. I don't mean con 
stant to Ada, for I love her dearly better and better every 
day but constant to myself. (Somehow, I mean something 
that I can't very well express, but you'll make it out.) If I 
were a more constant sort of fellow, I should have held on, 
either to Badger, or to Kenge and Carboy, like grim Death; 
and should have begun to be steady and systematic by this 
time, and shouldn't be in debt, and " 

" Are you in debt, Richard ? " 

" Yes," said Richard, " I am a little so, my dear. Also, I 
have taken rather too much to billiards, and that sort of 
thing. Now the murder's out ; you despise me, Esther, don't 
you ? " 

" You know I donV said I. 

"You are kinder to me than I often am to myself, 1 " he 
returned. "My dear Esther, I am a very unfortunate dog 
not to be more settled, but how can I be more settled? If 
you lived in an unfinished house, you couldn't settle down in 
it ; if you were condemned to leave everything you undertook, 
unfinished, you would find it hard to apply yourself to any 
thing; and yet that's my unhappy case. I was born into 
this unfinished contention with all its chances and changes, 
and it began to unsettle me before I quite knew the differ 
ence between a suit at law and a suit of clothes ; and it 
has gone on unsettling me ever since ; and here I am now, 
conscious sometimes that I am but a worthless fellow to love 
my confiding cousin Ada." 

We were in a solitary place, and he put his hands before 
his eyes and sobbed as he said the words. 

" O Richard ! " said I, " do not be so moved. You have a 
noble nature, and Ada's love may make you worthier every day." 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

" I know, my dear, 11 he replied, pressing my arm, " I know 
all that. You mustn't mind my being a little soft now, for 
I have had all this upon my mind for a long time ; and have 
often meant to speak to you, and have sometimes wanted 
opportunity and sometimes courage. I know what the 
thought of Ada ought to do for me, but it doesn't do it. I 
am too unsettled even for that. I love her most devotedly; 
and yet I do her wrong, in doing myself wrong, every day 
and hour. But it can't last for ever. We shall come on for 
a final hearing, and get judgment in our favour ; and then 
you and Ada shall see what I can really be ! " 

It had given me a pang to hear him sob, and see the tears 
start out between his fingers ; but that was infinitely less 
affecting to me, than the hopeful animation with which he 
said these words. 

" I have looked well into the papers, Esther I have been 
deep in them for months" he continued, recovering his 
cheerfulness in a moment, "and you may rely upon it that 
we shall come out triumphant. As to years of delay, there 
has been no want of them, Heaven knows ! and there is the 
greater probability of our bringing the matter to a speedy 
close ; in fact, it's on the paper now. It will be all right at 
last, and then you shall see ! " 

Recalling how he had just now placed Messrs. Kenge and 
Carboy in the same category with Mr. Badger, I asked him 
when he intended to be articled in Lincoln's Inn ? 

" There again ! I think not at all, Esther," he returned 
with an effort. "I fancy I have had enough of it. Having 
worked at Jarndyce and Jarndyce like a galley slave, I have 
slaked my thirst for the law, and satisfied myself that I 
shouldn't like it. Besides, I find it unsettles me more and 
more to be so constantly upon the scene of action. So what," 
continued Richard, confident again by this time, " do I 
naturally turn my thoughts to?" 

" I can't imagine," said I. 

" Don't look so serious," returned Richard, " because it's 



PUT NOT YOUR TRUST IN CHANCERY. 393 

the best thing I can do, my dear Esther, I am certain. It's 
not as if I wanted a profession for life. These proceedings 
will come to a termination, and then I am provided for. No. 
I look upon it as a pursuit which is in its nature more or less 
unsettled, and therefore suited to my temporary condition 
I may say, precisely suited. What is it that I naturally turn 
my thoughts to?" 

I looked at him, and shook my head. 

"What,'" said Richard, in a tone of perfect conviction, 
" but the army ! " 

" The army ? " said I. 

" The army, of course. What I have to do, is, to get a 
commission ; and there I am, you know ! " said Richard. 

And then he showed me, proved by elaborate calculations 
in his pocket-book, that supposing he had contracted, say two 
hundred pounds of debt in six months, out of the army ; 
and that he contracted no debt at all within a corresponding 
period, in the army as to which he had quite made up his 
mind ; this step must involve a saving of four hundred 
pounds in a year, or two thousand pounds in five years 
which was a considerable sum. And then he spoke so 
ingenuously and sincerely, of the sacrifice he made in with 
drawing himself for a time from Ada, and of the earnestness 
with which he aspired as in thought he always did, I know 
full well to repay her love, and to ensure her happiness, and 
to conquer what was amiss in himself, and to acquire the very 
soul of decision, that he made my heart ache keenly, sorely. 
For, I thought how would this end, how could this end, when 
so soon and so surely all his manly qualities were touched by 
the fatal blight that ruined everything it rested on ! 

I spoke to Richard with all the earnestness I felt, and all 
the hope I could not quite feel then ; and implored him, for 
Ada's sake, not to put any trust in Chancery. To all I said, 
Richard readily assented ; riding over the Court and every 
thing else in his easy way, and drawing the brightest pictures 
of the character he was to settle into alas, when the grievous 



394 BLEAK HOUSE. 

suit should loose its hold upon him ! We had a long talk, 
but it always came back to that, in substance. 

At last, we came to Soho Square, where Caddy Jellyby had 
appointed to wait for me, as a quiet place in the neighbour 
hood of Newman Street. Caddy was in the garden in the 
centre, and hurried out as soon as I appeared. After a few 
cheerful words, Richard left us together. 

" Prince has a pupil over the way, Esther,"" said Caddy, 
"and got the key for us. So, if you will walk round and 
round here with me, we can lock ourselves in, and I can tell 
you comfortably what I wanted to see your dear good face 
about. 1 ' 

" Very well, my dear," said I. " Nothing could be better." 
So Caddy, after affectionately squeezing the dear good face 
as she called it, locked the gate, and took my arm, and we 
began to walk round the garden very cosily. 

"You see, Esther," said Caddy, who thoroughly enjoyed a 
little confidence, " after you spoke to me about its being 
wrong to marry without Ma's knowledge, or even to keep Ma 
long in the dark respecting our engagement though I don't 
believe Ma cares much for me, I must say I thought it 
right to mention your opinions to Prince. In the first place, 
because I want to profit by everything you tell me ; and in 
the second place, because I have no secrets from Prince." 

" I hope he approved, Caddy ? " 

" O, my dear ! I assure you he would approve of anything 
you could say. You have no idea what an opinion he has 
of you!" 

"Indeed!" 

"Esther, it's enough to make anybody but me jealous," 
said Caddy, laughing and shaking her head ; " but it only 
makes me joyful, for you are the first friend I ever had, and 
the best friend I ever can have, and nobody can respect and 
love you too much to please me." 

"Upon my word, Caddy," said I, "you are in the general 
conspiracy to keep me in a good humour. Well, my dear ? 



A CONFIDENTIAL TALK. 395 

" Well ! I am going to tell you, 11 replied Caddy, crossing 
her hands confidentially upon my arm. " So we talked a 
good deal about it, and so I said to Prince, ' Prince, as Miss 
Summerson ' T 

" I hope you didn't say ' Miss Summerson ' ? " 

"No. I didn't!" cried Caddy, greatly pleased, and with 
the brightest of faces. " I said, ' Esther. 1 I said to Prince, 
* As Esther is decidedly of that opinion, Prince, and has ex 
pressed it to me, and always hints it when she writes those 
kind notes, which you are so fond of hearing me read to you, 
I am prepared to disclose the truth to Ma whenever you 
think proper. And I think, Prince, 1 said I, 'that Esther 
thinks that I should be in a better, and truer, and more 
.honourable position altogether, if you did the same to your 
Papa/ 11 

" Yes, my dear," said I. " Esther certainly does think so." 

So I was right, you see!" exclaimed Caddy. "Well! 
this troubled Prince a good deal ; not because he had the 
least doubt about it, but because he is so considerate of the 
feelings of old Mr. Turveydrop ; and he had his apprehen 
sions that old Mr. Turveydrop might break his heart, or 
faint away, or be very much overcome in some affecting 
manner or other, if he made such an announcement. He 
feared old Mr. Turveydrop might consider it undutiful, and 
might receive too great a shock. For, old Mr. Turveydrop's 
deportment is very beautiful you know, Esther," said Caddy ; 
"and his feelings are extremely sensitive." 

" Are they, my dear ? " 

" O, extremely sensitive. Prince says so. Now, this has 
caused my darling child I didn't mean to use the expression 
to you, Esther," Caddy apologised, her face suffused with 
blushes, "but I generally call Prince my darling child." 

I laughed ; an d Caddy lauged and blushed, and went on. 

"This has caused him, Esther " 

"Caused whom, my dear? 1 ' 

" you tiresome thing ! " said Caddy, laughing, with her 




396 BLEAK HOUSE. 

pretty face on fire. " My darling child, if you insist upon i1 
This has caused him weeks of uneasiness, and has 
him delay, from day to day, in a very anxious manner. At 
last he said to me, 'Caddy, if Miss Summerson, who is al 
great favourite with my father, could be prevailed upon to 1 
be present when I broke the subject, I think I could do if 
So I promised I would ask you. And I made up my mind, 
besides, 11 said Caddy, looking at me hopefully, but timidly, I 
" that if you consented, I would ask you afterwards to come f 
with me to Ma. This is what I meant, when I said in my 1 
note that I had a great favour and a great assistance to beg ) 
of you. And if you thought you could grant it, Esther, we 1 
should both be very grateful." 

"Let me see, Caddy, 1 ' said I, pretending to consider. f 
" Really I think I could do a greater thing than that, if the 
need were pressing. I am at your service and the darling 
child's, my dear, whenever you like." 

Caddy was quite transported by this reply of mine ; being, 
I believe, as susceptible to the least kindness or encouragement 
as any tender heart that ever beat in this world ; and after 
another turn or two round the garden, during which she I 
put on an entirely new pair of gloves, and made herself as 
resplendent as possible that she might do no avoidable dis- > 
credit to the Master of Deportment, we went to Newman 
Street direct. 

Prince was teaching, of course. We found him engaged I 
with a not very hopeful pupil a stubborn little girl with a 
sulky forehead, a deep voice, and an inanimate dissatisfied 
mamma whose case was certainly not rendered more hopeful 
by the confusion into which we threw her preceptor. The 
lesson at last came to an end, after proceeding as discordantly 
as possible; and when the little girl had changed her shoes, 
and had had her white muslin extinguished in shawls, she was 
taken away. After a few words of preparation, we then 
went in search of Mr. Turveydrop ; whom we found, grouped 
with his hat and gloves, as a model of Deportment, on the 



DEPORTMENT DROOPS. 397 

sofa in his private apartment the only comfortable room in 
the house. He appeared to have dressed at his leisure, in the 
intervals of a light collation ; and his dressing-case, brushes, 
and so forth, all of quite an elegant kind, lay about. 

" Father, Miss Summerson ; Miss Jelly by. " 

" Charmed ! Enchanted ! " said Mr. Turveydrop, rising 
with his high-shouldered bow. " Permit me ! " handing chairs. 
Be seated ! " kissing the tips of his left fingers. " Overjoyed ! " 
shutting his eyes and rolling. "My little retreat is made a 
Paradise." Recomposing himself on the sofa, like the second 
gentleman in Europe. 

" Again you find us, Miss Summerson," said he, " using our 
little arts to polish, polish ! Again the sex stimulates us, and 
rewards us, by the condescension of its lovely presence. 
It is much in these times (and we have made an awfully 
degenerating business of it since the days of His Royal 
Highness the Prince Regent my patron, if I may presume 
to say so) to experience that Deportment is not wholly 
trodden under foot by mechanics. That it can yet bask in 
the smile of Beauty, my dear madam. 1 '' 

I said nothing, which I thought a suitable reply; and he 
took a pinch of snuff. 

"My dear son," said Mr. Turveydrop, "you have four 
schools this afternoon. I would recommend a hasty sand 
wich." 

"Thank you, father," returned Prince, " I will be sure to 
be punctual. My dear father, may I beg you to prepare your 
mind for what I am going to say ! " 

" Good Heaven ! " exclaimed the model, pale and aghast, 
as Prince and Caddy, hand in hand, bent down before him. 
"What is this? Is this lunacy! Or what is this?" 

"Father," returned Prince, with great submission, "I love 
this young lady, and we are engaged." 

" Engaged ! " cried Mr. Turveydrop, reclining on the sofa, 
and shutting out the sight with his hand. "An arrow 
launched at my brain, by my own child ! " 



398 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"We have been engaged for some time, father," faltered 
Prince; "and Miss Summerson, hearing of it, advised that 
we should declare the fact to you, and was so very kind as 
to attend on the present occasion. Miss Jellyby is a young 
lady who deeply respects you, father/ 1 

Mr. Turveydrop uttered a groan. 

"No, pray don't! Pray don't, father," urged his son. 
"Miss Jellyby is a young lady who deeply respects you, 
and our first desire is to consider your comfort. 11 

Mr. Turveydrop sobbed. 

" No, pray don't, father ! " cried his son. 

"Boy," 11 said Mr. Turveydrop, "it is well that your sainted 
mother is spared this pang. Strike deep, and spare not. 
Strike home, sir, strike home ! " 

"Pray, don't say so, father, 11 implored Prince, in tears. 
"It goes to my heart. I do assure you, father, that our 
first wish and intention is to consider your comfort. Caroline 
and I do not forget our duty what is my duty is Caroline's, 
as we have often said together and, with your approval and 
consent, father, we will devote ourselves to making your life 
agreeable. 11 

"Strike home, 11 murmured Mr. Turveydrop. "Strike 
home ! " 

But he seemed to listen, I thought, too. 

"My dear father, 11 returned Prince, "we well know what 
little comforts you are accustomed to, and have a right to; 
and it will always be our study, and our pride, to provide 
those before anything. If you will bless us with your 
approval and consent, father, we shall not think of being 
married until it is quite agreeable to you; and when we 
are married, we shall always make you of course our first 
consideration. You must ever be the Head and Master 
here, father; and we feel how truly unnatural it would be 
in us, if we failed to know it, or if we failed to exert our 
selves in every possible way to please you. ' 

Mr. Turveydrop underwent a severe internal struggle, and 



PARENTAL DEPORTMENT. 399 

came upright on the sofa again, with his cheeks puffing over 
his stiff cravat : a perfect model of parental deportment. 

"My son!" said Mr. Turveydrop. "My children! I 
cannot resist your prayer. Be happy ! " 

His benignity, as he raised his future daughter-in-law and 
stretched out his hand to his son (who kissed it with 
affectionate respect and gratitude), was the most confusing 
sight I ever saw. 

"My children," said Mr. Turveydrop, paternally encircling 
Caddy with his left arm as she sat beside him, and putting 
his right hand gracefully on his hip. " My son and daughter, 
your happiness shall be my care. I will watch over you. 
You shall always live with me;" meaning, of course, I will 
always live with you ; " this house is henceforth as much yours 
as mine ; consider it your home. May you long live to share 
it with me ! " 

The power of his Deportment was such, that they really 
were as much overcome with thankfulness as if, instead of 
quartering himself upon them for the rest of his life, he were 
making some munificent sacrifice in their favour. 

"For myself, my children," said Mr. Turveydrop, "I am 
falling into the sear and yellow leaf, and it is impossible to 
say how long the last feeble traces of gentlemanly Deportment 
may linger in this weaving and spinning age. But, so long, 
I will do my duty to society, and will show myself, as usual, 
about town. My wants are few and simple. My little 
apartment here, my few essentials for the toilet, my frugal 
morning meal, and my little dinner, will suffice. I charge 
your dutiful affection with the supply of these requirements, 
and I charge myself with all the rest." 

They were overpowered afresh by his uncommon generosity. 

" My son," said Mr. Turveydrop, " for those little points in 
which you are deficient points of Deportment which are born 
with a man which may be improved by cultivation, but can 
never be originated you may still rely on me. I have been 
faithful to my post, since the days of His Royal Highness 



400 BLEAK HOUSE. 

the Prince Regent ; and I will not desert it now. No, my 
son. If you have ever contemplated your father's poor position 
with a feeling of pride, you may rest assured that he will do 
nothing to tarnish it. For yourself, Prince, whose character 
is different (we cannot be all alike, nor is it advisable that 
we should), work, be industrious, earn money, and extend the 
connexion as much as possible."" 

" That you may depend I will do, dear father, with all my 
heart, 1 ' replied Prince. 

"I have no doubt of it," said Mr. Turveydrop. "Your 
qualities are not shining, my dear child, but they are steady 
and useful. And to both of you, my dear children, I would 
merely observe, in the spirit of a sainted Wooman on whose 
path I had the happiness of casting, I believe, some ray of 
light, take care of the establishment, take care of my simple 
wants, and bless you both ! " 

Old Mr. Turveydrop then became so very gallant, in 
honour of the occasion, that I told Caddy we must really go 
to Thavies Inn at once if we were to go at all that day. So 
we took our departure, after a very loving farewell between 
Caddy and her betrothed: and during our walk she was so 
happy, and so full of old Mr. Turveydrop's praises, that I 
would not have said a word in his disparagement for any 
consideration. 

The house in Thavies Inn had bills in the windows 
announcing that it was to let, and it looked dirtier and 
gloomier and ghastlier than ever. The name of poor Mr. 
Jellyby had appeared in the list of Bankrupts, but a day or 
two before ; and he was shut up in the dining-room with two 
gentlemen, and a heap of blue bags, account-books, and 
papers, making the most desperate endeavours to understand 
his affairs. They appeared to me to be quite beyond his 
comprehension ; for when Caddy took me into the dining- 
room by mistake, and we came upon Mr. Jellyby in his 
spectacles, forlornly fenced into a corner by the great 
dining-table and the two gentlemen, he seemed to have 



MR. JELLYBY A BANKRUFT. 401 

given up the whole thing, and to be speechless and in 
sensible. 

Going tip-stairs to Mrs. Jellyby 's room (the children were 
all screaming in the kitchen, and there was no servant to be 
seen), we found that lady in the midst of a voluminous corre 
spondence, opening, reading, and sorting letters, with a great 
accumulation of torn covers on the floor. She was so pre 
occupied that at first she did not know me, though she sat 
looking at me with that curious, bright-eyed, far-off look 
of hers. 

" Ah ! Miss Summerson ! " she said at last. " I was thinking 
of something so different ! I hope you are well. I am happy 
to see you. Mr. Jarndyce and Miss Clare quite well ? " 

I hoped in return that Mr. Jelly by was quite well. 

"Why, not quite, my dear," said Mrs. Jellyby, in the 
calmest manner. "He has been unfortunate in his affairs, 
and is a little out of spirits. Happily for me, I am so 
much engaged that I have no time to think about it. We 
have, at the present moment, one hundred and seventy 
families, Miss Summerson, averaging five persons in each, 
either gone or going to the left bank of the Niger." 

I thought of the one family so near us, who were neither 
gone nor going to the left bank of the Niger, and wondered 
how she could be so placid. 

"You have brought Caddy back, I see," observed Mrs. 
Jellyby, with a glance at her daughter. "It has become 
quite a novelty to see her here. She has almost deserted 
her old employment, and in fact obliges me to employ a 
boy." 

" I am sure, Ma, " began Caddy. 

" Now you know, Caddy," her mother mildly interposed, 
"'that I do employ a boy, who is now at his dinner. What 
is the use of your contradicting ? " 

"I was not going to contradict, Ma," returned Caddy. 
"I was only going to say, that surely you wouldn't have 
me be a mere drudge all my life." 

VOL. i. 2 D 






402 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" I believe, my dear, 1 ' said Mrs. Jellyby, still opening her 
letters, casting her bright eyes smilingly over them, and 
sorting them as she spoke, " that you have a business example 
before you in your mother. Besides. A mere drudge? If 
you had any sympathy with the destinies of the human race, 
it would raise you high above any such idea. But you have 
none. I have often told you, Caddy, you have no such 
sympathy." 

" Not if it's Africa, Ma, I have not.' 1 

" Of course you have not. Now, if I were not happily so 
much engaged, Miss Summerson, 11 said Mrs. Jellyby, sweetly 
casting her eyes for a moment on me, and considering where 
to put the particular letter she had just opened, " this would 
distress and disappoint me. But I have so much to think 
of, in connexion with Borrioboola-Gha, and it is so necessary 
I should concentrate myself, that there is my remedy, you 
see. 11 

As Caddy gave me a glance of entreaty, and as Mrs. 
Jellyby was looking far away into Africa straight through 
my bonnet and head, I thought it a good opportunity to 
come to the subject of my visit, and to attract Mrs. Jelly by^s 
attention. 

" Perhaps, 11 I began, " you will wonder what has brought 
me here to interrupt you. 11 

"I am always delighted to see Miss Summerson, 11 said 
Mrs. Jellyby, pursuing her employment with a placid smile. 
"Though I wish, 11 and she shook her head, "she was more 
interested in the Borrioboolan project. 11 

"I have come with Caddy, 11 said I, "because Caddy justly 
thinks she ought not to have a secret from her mother; and 
fancies I shall encourage and aid her (though I am sure I 
don't know how), in imparting one. 11 

"Caddy, 11 said Mrs. Jellyby, pausing for a moment in her 
occupation, and then serenely pursuing it after shaking her 
head, " you are going to tell me some nonsense. 11 

Caddy untied the strings of her bonnet, took her bonnet 



A MODEL MOTHER. 403 

off, and letting it dangle on the floor by the strings, and 
crying heartily, said, " Ma, I am engaged." 

" O, you ridiculous child ! " observed Mrs. Jelly by, with an 
abstracted air, as she looked over the despatch last opened ; 
" what a goose you are ! " 

"I am engaged, Ma," sobbed Caddy, "to young Mr. 
Turveydrop, at the Academy ; and old Mr. Turveydrop (who 
is a very gentlemanly man indeed) has given his consent, and 
I beg and pray you'll give us yours, Ma, because I never 
could be happy without it. I never, never could ! " sobbed 
Caddy, quite forgetful of her general complainings, and of 
everything but her natural affection. 

"You see again, Miss Summerson," observed Mrs. Jellyby, 
serenely, "what a happiness it is to be so much occupied as 
I am, and to have this necessity for self-concentration that I 
have. Here is Caddy engaged to a dancing-master's son 
mixed up with people who have no more sympathy with the 
destinies of the human race than she has herself ! This, too, 
when Mr. Quale, one of the first philanthropists of our time, 
has mentioned to me that he was really disposed to be 
interested in her!" 

" Ma, I always hated and detested Mr. Quale ! " sobbed 
Caddy. 

"Caddy, Caddy!" returned Mrs. Jellyby, opening another 
letter with the greatest complacency. " I have no doubt you 
did. How could you do otherwise, being totally destitute of 
the sympathies with which he overflows ! Now, if my public 
duties were not a favourite child to me, if I were not occupied 
with large measures on a vast scale, these petty details might 
grieve me very much, Miss Summerson. But can I permit 
the film of a silly proceeding on the part of Caddy (from 
whom I expect nothing else), to interpose between me and 
the great African continent? No. No," repeated Mrs. 
Jellyby, in a calm clear voice, and with an agreeable smile, 
as she opened more letters and sorted them. " No, indeed." 

I w r as so unprepared for the perfect coolness of this 



404 BLEAK HOUSE. 

reception, though I might have expected it, that I did not 
know what to say. Caddy seemed equally at a loss. Mrs. 
Jellyby continued to open and sort letters; and to repeat 
occasionally, in quite a charming tone of voice, and with a 
smile of perfect composure, " No, indeed." 

"I hope, Ma," sobbed poor Caddy at last, "you are not 
angry ? " 

"O Caddy, you really are an absurd girl," returned Mrs. 
Jellyby, "to ask such questions, after what I have said of 
the preoccupation of my mind." 

"And I hope, Ma, you give us your consent, and wish us 
well?" said Caddy. 

"You are a nonsensical child to have done anything of 
this kind," said Mrs. Jellyby ; " and a degenerate child, when 
you might have devoted yourself to the great public measure. 
But the step is taken, and I have engaged a boy, and there 
is no more to be said. Now, pray, Caddy," said Mrs. Jellyby 
for Caddy was kissing her "don't delay me in my work, 
but let me clear off this heavy batch of papers before the 
afternoon post comes in ! " 

I thought I could not do better than take my leave; I 
was detained for a moment by Caddy's saying, 

"You won't object to my bringing him to see you, Ma?" 

" O dear me, Caddy," cried Mrs. Jellyby, who had relapsed 
into that distant contemplation, "have you begun again? 
Bring whom ? " 

"Him, Ma." 

" Caddy, Caddy ! " said Mrs. Jellyby, quite weary of such 
little matters. "Then you must bring him some evening 
which is not a Parent Society night, or a Branch night, or a 
Ramification night. You must accommodate the visit to the 
demands upon my time. My dear Miss Summerson, it was 
very kind of you to come here to help out this silly chit. 
Good-bye! When I tell you that I have fifty-eight new 
letters from manufacturing families anxious to understand 
the details of the Native and Coffee Cultivation question, 






CADDY'S PROSPECTS. 405 

this morning, I need not apologise for having very little 
leisure." 

I was not surprised by Caddy's being in low spirits, when 
we went down-stairs ; or by her sobbing afresh on my neck, 
or by her saying she would far rather have been scolded than 
treated with such indifference, or by her confiding to me that 
she was so poor in clothes, that how she was ever to be 
married creditably she didn't know. I gradually cheered her 
up, by dwelling on the many things she would do for her 
unfortunate father, and for Peepy. when she had a home of 
her own ; and finally we went down-stairs into the damp dark 
kitchen, where Peepy and his little brothers and sisters were 
grovelling on the stone floor, and where we had such a game 
of play with them, that to prevent myself from being quite 
torn to pieces I was obliged to fall back on my fairy tales. 
From time to time, I heard loud voices in the parlour over 
head ; and occasionally a violent tumbling about of the 
furniture. The last effect I am afraid was caused by poor 
Mr. Jellyby's breaking away from the dining-table, and 
making rushes at the window, with the intention of throwing 
himself into the area, whenever he made any new attempt 
to understand his affairs. 

As I rode quietly home at night after the day's bustle, I 
thought a good deal of Caddy's engagement, and felt con 
firmed in my hopes (in spite of the elder Mr. Turveydrop) 
that she would be the happier and better for it. And if 
there seemed to be but a slender chance of her and her 
husband ever finding out what the model of Deportment 
really was, why that was all for the best too, and who would 
wish them to be wiser? I did not wish them to be any 
wiser, and indeed was half ashamed of not entirely believing 
in him myself. And I looked up at the stars, and thought 
about travellers in distant countries and the stars they saw, 
and hoped I might always be so blest and happy as to be 
useful to some one in my small way. 

They were so glad to see me when I got home, as they 






406 BLEAK HOUSE. 

always were, that I could have sat down and cried for joy, if 
that had not been a method of making myself disagreeable. 
Everybody in the house, from the lowest to the highest, 
showed me such a bright face of welcome, and spoke so 
cheerily, and was so happy to do anything for me, that I 
suppose there never was such a fortunate little creature in 
the world. 

We got into such a chatty state that night, through Ada 
and my guardian drawing me out to tell them all about 
Caddy, that I went on prose, prose, prosing, for a length of 
time. At last I got up to my own room, quite red to think 
how I had been holding forth ; and then I heard a soft tap 
at my door. So I said, " Come in ! " and there came in a 
pretty little girl, neatly dressed in mourning, who dropped a 
curtsey. 

"If you please, miss," said the little girl, in a soft voice, 
" I am Charley." 

" Why, so you are," said I, stooping down in astonishment, 
and giving her a kiss. " How glad am I to see you, Charley ! " 

" If you please, miss," pursued Charley, in the same soft 
voice, " I'm your maid." 

"Charley?" 

"If you please, miss, I'm a present to you, with Mr. 
Jarndyce's love." 

I sat down with my hand on Charley's neck, and looked at 
Charley. 

" And O, miss," says Charley, clapping her hands, with the 
tears starting down her dimpled cheeks, "Tom's at school, if 
you please, and learning so good ! And little Emma, she's 
with Mrs. Blinder, miss, a being took such care of! And 
Tom, he would have been at school and Emma, she would 
have been left with Mrs. Blinder and me, I should have 
been here all a deal sooner, miss ; only Mr. Jarndyce thought 
that Tom and Emma and me had better get a little used to 
parting first, we was so small. Don't cry, if you please, 
miss ! " 



A PRESENT, WITH MR. JARNDYCE'S LOVE. 407 

" I can't help it, Charley." 

"No, miss, nor I can't help it,' 1 says Charley. "And if 
you please, miss, Mr. Jarndyce's love, and he thinks you'll 
like to teach me now and then. And if you please, Tom 
and Emma and me is to see each other once a month. And 
I'm so happy and so thankful, miss,' 1 cried Charley with 
a heaving heart, " and I'll try to be such a good maid ! " 

" O Charley dear, never forget who did all this ! " 

" No, miss, I never will. Nor Tom won't. Nor yet Emma. 
It was all you, miss." 

"I have known nothing of it. It was Mr. Jamdyce, 
Charley." 

" Yes, miss, but it was all done for the love of you, and 
that you might be my mistress. If you please, miss, I am a 
little present with his love, and it was all done for the love 
of you. Me and Tom was to be sure to remember it." 

Charley dried her eyes, and entered on her functions : going 
in her matronly little way about and about the room, and 
folding up everything she could lay her hands upon. Presently, 
Charley came creeping back to my side, and said : 

" O don't cry, if you please, miss." 

And I said again, "I can't help it, Charley/' 

And Charley said again, "No, miss, nor I can't help it." 
And so, after all, I did cry for joy indeed, and so did she. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

AN APPEAL CASE. 

As soon as Richard and I had held the conversation of which 
I have given an account, Richard communicated the state of 
his mind to Mr. Jarndyce. I doubt if my guardian were 
altogether taken by surprise, when he received the representa 
tion ; though it caused him much uneasiness and disappoint 
ment. He and Richard were often closeted together, late at 
night and early in the morning, and passed whole days in 
London, and had innumerable appointments with Mr. Kenge, 
and laboured through a quantity of disagreeable business. 
While they were thus employed, my guardian, though he 
underwent considerable inconvenience from the state of the 
wind, and rubbed his head so constantly that not a single 
hair upon it ever rested in its right place, was as genial with 
Ada and me as at any other time, but maintained a steady 
reserve on these matters. And as our utmost endeavours 
could only elicit from Richard himself sweeping assurances 
that everything was going on capitally, and that it really was 
all right at last, our anxiety was not much relieved by him. 
We learnt, however, as the time went on, that a new appli 
cation was made to the Lord Chancellor on Richard's behalf, 
as an Infant and a Ward, and I don't know what ; and that 
there was a quantity of talking ; and that the Lord Chancellor 
described him, in open court, as a vexatious and capricious 
infant ; and that the matter was adjourned and readjourned, 



A FRIENDLY DIFFERENCE. 



409 



and referred, and reported on, and petitioned about, until 
Richard began to doubt (as he told us) whether, if he entered 
the army at all, it would not be as a veteran of seventy or 
eighty years of age. At last an appointment was made for 
him to see the Lord Chancellor again in his private room, 
and there the Lord Chancellor very seriously reproved him 
for trifling with time, and not knowing his mind " a pretty 
good joke, I think," said Richard, "from that quarter!" 
and at last it was settled that his application should be granted. 
His name was entered at the Horse Guards, as an applicant 
for an Ensign's commission ; the purchase-money was deposited 
at an Agent's; and Richard, in his usual characteristic way, 
plunged into a violent course of military study, and got up 
at five o'clock every morning to practise the broadsword 
exercise. 

Thus, vacation succeeded term, and term succeeded vaca 
tion. We sometimes heard of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, as 
being in the paper or out of the paper, or as being to be 
mentioned, or as being to be spoken to ; and it came on, and 
it went off. Richard, who was now in a Professor's house in 
London, was able to be with us less frequently than before; 
my guardian still maintained the same reserve ; and so time 
passed until the commission was obtained, and Richard re 
ceived directions with it to join a regiment in Ireland. 

He arrived post-haste with the intelligence one evening, 
and had a long conference with my guardian. Upwards of 
an hour elapsed before my guardian put his head into the 
room where Ada and I were sitting, and said, " Come in, my 
dears ! " We went in, and found Richard, whom we had last 
seen in high spirits, leaning on the chimney-piece, looking 
mortified and angry. 

" Rick and I, Ada," said Mr. Jarndyce, " are not quite of 
one mind. Come, come, Rick, put a brighter face upon it ! " 

"You are very hard with me, sir," said Richard. "The 
harder, because you have been so considerate to me in all 
other respects, and have done me kindnesses that I can never 






410 



BLEAK HOUSE 



acknowledge. I never could have been set right without 
you, sir." 

" Well, well ! " said Mr. Jarndyce, " I want to set you more 
right yet. I want to set you more right with yourself."" 

"I hope you will excuse my saying, sir," returned Richard 
in a fiery way, but yet respectfully, "that I think I am the 
best judge about myself." 

" I hope you will excuse my saying, my dear Rick," observed 
Mr. Jarndyce with the sweetest cheerfulness and good humour, 
" that it's quite natural in you to think so, but I don't think 
so. I must do my duty, Rick, or you could never care for 
me in cool blood ; and I hope you will always care for me, 
cool and hot." 

Ada had turned so pale, that he made her sit down in his 
reading-chair, and sat beside her. 

" It's nothing, my dear," he said, " it's nothing. Rick and 
I have only had a friendly difference, which we must state to 
you, for you are the theme. Now you are afraid of what's 
coming." 

" I am not indeed, cousin John," replied Ada, with a smile, 
" if it is to come from you." 

"Thank you, my dear. Do you give me a minute's calm 
attention, without looking at Rick. And, little woman, do 
you likewise. My dear girl," putting his hand on hers, as it 
lay on the side of the easy-chair, "you recollect the talk we 
had, we four, when the little woman told me of a little love 
affair?" 

"It is not likely that either Richard or I can ever forget 
your kindness, that day, cousin John." 

" I can never forget it," said Richard. 

" And I can never forget it," said Ada. 

"So much the easier what I have to say, and so much the 
easier for us to agree," returned my guardian, his face 
irradiated by the gentleness and honour of his heart. " Ada, 
my bird, you should know that Rick has now chosen his pro 
fession for the last time. All that he has of certainty will be 



STRONG WORDS OF ADVICE. 



411 



expended when he is fully equipped. He has exhausted his 
resources, and is bound henceforward to the tree he has 
planted/ 1 

"Quite true that I have exhausted my present resources, 
and I am quite content to know it. But what I have of 
certainty, sir," said Richard, " is not all I have." 

" Rick, Rick ! " cried my guardian, with a sudden terror in 
his manner, and in an altered voice, and putting up his hands 
as if he would have stopped his ears, " for the love of God, 
don't found a hope or expectation on the family curse ! 
Whatever you do on this side the grave, never give one 
lingering glance towards the horrible phantom that has 
haunted us so many years. Better to borrow, better to beg, 
better to die ! " 

We were all startled by the fervour of this warning. 
Richard bit his lip and held his breath, and glanced at me, 
as if he felt, and knew that I felt too, how much he needed it. 

"Ada, my dear," said Mr. Jarndyce, recovering his cheer 
fulness, " these are strong words of advice ; but I live in 
Bleak House, and have seen a sight here. Enough of that. 
All Richard had, to start him in the race of life, is ventured. 
I recommend to him and you, for his sake and your own, 
that he should depart from us with the understanding that 
there is no sort of contract between you. I must go further. 
I will be plain with you both. You were to confide freely 
in me, and I will confide freely in you. I ask you wholly to 
relinquish, for the present, any tie but your relationship." 

" Better to say at once, sir," returned Richard, " that you 
renounce all confidence in me, and that you advise Ada to 
do the same." 

"Better to say nothing of the sort, Rick, because I don't 
mean it." 

"You think I have begun ill, sir," retorted Richard. "I 
have, I know." 

" How I hoped you would begin, and how go on, I told 
you when we spoke of these things last," said Mr. Jarndyce, 



412 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



in a cordial and encouraging manner. " You have not made 
that beginning yet; but there is a time for all things, and 
yours is not gone by rather, it is just now fully come. 
Make a clear beginning altogether. You two (very young, 
my dears) are cousins. As yet, vou are nothing more. 
What more may come, must come of being worked out, 
Rick ; and no sooner." 

" You are very hard with me, sir,*" said Richard. " Harder 
than I could have supposed you would be."" 

"My dear boy," said Mr. Jarndyce, "I am harder with 
myself when I do anything that gives you pain. You have 
your remedy in your own hands. Ada, it is better for him 
that he should be free, and that there should be no youthful 
engagement between you. Rick, it is better for her, much 
better ; you owe it to her. Come ! Each of you will do 
what is best for the other, if not what is best for yourselves." 

"Why is it best, sir?" returned Richard, hastily. "It 
was not, when we opened our hearts to you. You did not 
say so, then." 

" I have had experience since. I don't blame you, Rick 
but I have had experience since." 

" You mean of me, sir." 

" Well ! Yes, of both of you," said Mr. Jarndyce, kindly. 
"The time is not come for your standing pledged to one 
another. It is not right, and I must not recognise it. Come, 
come, my young cousins, begin afresh ! Byegones shall be 
byegones, and a new page turned for you to write your 
lives in." 

Richard gave an anxious glance at Ada, but said 
nothing. 

" I have avoided saying one word to either of you, or to 
Esther," said Mr. Jarndyce, "until now, in order that we 
might be open as the day, and all on equal terms. I now 
affectionately advise, I now most earnestly entreat, you two, 
to part as you came here. Leave all else to time, truth, and 
steadfastness. If you do otherwise, you will do wrong ; and 



AN ESTRANGEMENT. 413 

you will have made me do wrong, in ever bringing you 
together." 

A long silence succeeded. 

"Cousin Richard," said Ada, then, raising her blue eyes 
tenderly to his face, " after what our cousin John has said, I 
think no choice is left us. Your mind may be quite at ease 
about me; for you will leave me here under his care, and 
will be sure that I can have nothing to wish for; quite sure, 
if I guide myself by his advice. I I don't doubt, cousin 
Richard," said Ada, a little confused, " that you are very fond 
of me, and I I don't think you will fall in love with any 
body else. But I should like you to consider well about it, 
too; as I should like you to be in all things very happy. 
You may trust in me, cousin Richard. I am not at all 
changeable ; but I am not unreasonable, and should never 
blame you. Even cousins may be sorry to part; and in 
truth I am very, very sorry, Richard, though I know it's for 
your welfare. I shall always think of you affectionately, and 
often talk of you with Esther, and and perhaps you will 
sometimes think a little of me, cousin Richard. So now," 
said Ada, going up to him and giving him her trembling 
hand, " we are only cousins again, Richard for the time 
perhaps and I pray for a blessing on my dear cousin, wherever 
he goes ! " 

It was strange to me that Richard should not be able to 
forgive my guardian, for entertaining the very same opinion 
of him which he himself had expressed of himself in much 
stronger terms to me. But, it was certainly the case. I 
observed, with great regret, that from this hour he never was 
as free and open with Mr. Jarndyce as he had been before. 
He had every reason given him to be so, but he was not; 
and, solely on his side, an estrangement began to arise 
between them. 

In the business of preparation and equipment he soon lost 
himself, and even his grief at parting from Ada, who remained 
in Hertfordshire, while he, Mr. Jarndyce, and I went up to 



414 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



London for a week. He remembered her by fits and starts, 
even with bursts of tears ; and at such times would confide 
to me the heaviest self-reproaches. But, in a few minutes he 
would recklessly conjure up some undefinable means by which 
they were both to be made rich and happy for ever, and 
would become as gay as possible. 

It was a busy time, and I trotted about with him all day 
long, buying a variety of things, of which he stood in need. 
Of the things he would have bought, if he had been left to 
his own ways, I say nothing. He was perfectly confidential 
with me, and often talked so sensibly and feelingly about 
his faults and his vigorous resolutions, and dwelt so much 
upon the encouragement he derived from these conversations, 
that I could never have been tired if I had tried. 

There used, in that week, to come backward and forward 
to our lodging, to fence with Richard, a person who had 
formerly been a cavalry soldier; he was a fine bluff-looking 
man, of a frank free bearing, with whom Richard had 
practised for some months. I heard so much about him, not 
only from Richard, but from my guardian too, that I was 
purposely in the room, with my work, one morning after 
breakfast when he came. 

"Good morning, Mr. George," said my guardian, who 
happened to be alone with me. " Mr. Carstone will be here 
directly. Meanwhile, Miss Summerson is 'very happy to see 
you, I know. Sit down." 

He sat down, a little disconcerted by my presence, I 
thought; and, without looking at me, drew his heavy sun 
burnt hand across and across his upper lip. 

" You are as punctual as the sun," said Mr. Jarndyce. 

"Military time, sir," he replied. "Force of habit. A 
mere habit in me, sir. I am not at all business-like." 

" Yet you have a large establishment, too, I am told ? 
said Mr. Jarndyce. 

"Not much of a one, sir. I keep a shooting gallery, but 
not much of a one." 



RICHARD'S FENCING MASTER 415 

"And what kind of a shot, and what kind of a swordsman, 
do you make of Mr. Carstone ? " said my guardian. 

"Pretty good, sir," he replied, folding his arms upon his 
broad chest, and looking very large. " If Mr. Carstone was 
to give his full mind to it, he would come out very good." 

" But he don't, I suppose ? " said my guardian. 

"He did at first, sir, but not afterwards. Not his full 
mind. Perhaps he has something else upon it some young- 
lady, perhaps." His bright dark eyes glanced at me for the 
first time. 

" He has not me upon his mind, I assure you, Mr. George," 
said I, laughing, " though you seem to suspect me." 

He reddened a little through his brown, and made me a 
trooper's bow. " No offence, I hope, miss. I am one of the 
Roughs." 

"Not at all," said I. "I take it as a compliment." 

If he had not looked at me before, he looked at me now, in 
three or four quick successive glances. " I beg your pardon, 
sir," he said to my guardian, with a manly kind of diffidence, 
"but you did me the honour to mention the young lady's 
name " 

"Miss Summerson." 

"Miss Summerson," he repeated, and looked at me again. 

"Do you know the name?" I asked. 

" No, miss. To my knowledge, I never heard it. I thought 
I had seen you somewhere." 

" I think not," I returned, raising my head from my work 
to look at him ; and there was something so genuine in his 
speech and manner that I was glad of the opportunity. "I 
remember faces very well." 

" So do I, miss ! " he returned, meeting my look with the 
fulness of his dark and broad forehead. " Humph ! What 
set me off, now, upon that ! " 

His once more reddening through his brown, and being 
disconcerted by his efforts to remember the association, 
brought my guardian to his relief, 



416 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Have you many pupils, Mr. George ? " 

"They vary in their number, sir. Mostly, they're but a 
small lot to live by." 

"And what classes of chance people come to practise at 
your gallery ? " 

"All sorts, sir. Natives and foreigners. From gentlemen 
to 'prentices. I have had French women come, before now 
and show themselves dabs at pistol-shooting. Mad people 
out of number, of course but they go everywhere, where the 
doors stand open." 

" People don't come with grudges, and schemes of finishing 
their practice with live targets, I hope?" said my guardian 
smiling. 

" Not much of that, sir, though that has happened. Mostly 
they come for skill or idleness. Six of one, and half-a-dozen 
of the other. I beg your pardon," said Mr. George, sitting 
stiffly upright, and squaring an elbow on each knee, " but ! 
believe you're a Chancery suitor, if I have heard correct ? " 

"I am sorry to say I am." 

" I have had one of your compatriots in my time, sir." 

" A Chancery suitor ? " returned my guardian. " How was 
that?" 

" Why, the man was so badgered, and worried, and tortured, 
by being knocked about from post to pillar, and from pillar 
to post," said Mr. George, " that he got out of sorts. I don't 
believe he had' any idea of taking aim at anybody ; but he was 
in that condition of resentment and violence, that he would 
come and pay for fifty shots, and fire away till he was red hot. 
One day I said to him when there was nobody by, and he had 
been talking to me angrily about his wrongs, ' If this practice 
is a safety-valve, comrade, well and good ; but I don't altogether 
like your being so bent upon it, in your present state of mind ; 
I'd rather you took to something else.' I was on my guard for 
a blow, he was that passionate ; but he received it in very good 
part, and left off directly. We shook hands, and struck up 
a sort of friendship." 



MR. GEORGE IN A BROWN STUDY. 417 

" What was that man ? " asked my guardian, in a new tone 
of interest. 

' Why, he began by being a small Shropshire farmer, before 
they made a baited bull of him," said Mr. George. 

" Was his name Gridley ? " 

" It was, sir." 

Mr. George directed another succession of quick bright 
glances at me, as my guardian and I exchanged a word or 
two of surprise at the coincidence ; and I therefore explained 
to him how we knew the name. He made me another of his 
soldierly bows, in acknowledgment of what he called my 
condescension. 

" I don't know," he said, as he looked at me, " what it is 
that sets me off again but bosh ! what's my head running 
against ! " He passed one of his heavy hands over his crisp 
dark hair, as if to sweep the broken thoughts out of his mind ; 
and sat a little forward, with one arm akimbo and the other 
resting on his leg, looking in a brown study at the ground. 

" I am sorry to learn that the same state of mind has got 
this Gridley into new troubles, and that he is in hiding," said 
my guardian. 

" So I am told, sir," returned Mr. George, still musing and 
looking on the ground. "So I am told." 

"You don't know where?" 

"No, sir," returned the trooper, lifting up his eyes and 
coming out of his reverie. " I can't say anything about him. 
He will be worn out soon, I expect. You may file a strong 
man's heart away for a good many years, but it will tell all 
of a sudden at last." 

Richard's entrance stopped the conversation. Mr. George 
rose, made me another of his soldierly bows, wished my 
guardian a good day, and strode heavily out of the room. 

This was the morning of the day appointed for Richard's 
departure. We had no more purchases to make now; I had 
completed all his packing early in the afternoon; and our 
time was disengaged until night, when he was to go to 

VOL. i. 2 E 



418 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Liverpool for Holyhead. Jarndyce and Jarndyce being again 
expected to come on that day, Richard proposed to me that 
we should go down to the Court and hear what passed. As 
it was his last day, and he was eager to go, and I had never 
been there, I gave my consent, and we walked down to West 
minster, where the Court was then sitting. We beguiled the 
way with arrangements concerning the letters that Richard 
was to write to me, and the letters that I was to write to 
him ; and with a great many hopeful projects. My guardian 
knew where we were going, and therefore was not with us. 

When we came to the Court, there was the Lord Chancellor 
the same whom I had seen in his private room in Lincoln's 
Inn sitting in great state and gravity, on the bench; with 
the mace and seals on a red table below him, and an immense 
flat nosegay, like a little garden, which scented the whole 
Court. Below the table, again, was a long row of solicitors, 
with bundles of papers on the matting at their feet ; and then 
there were the gentlemen of the bar in wigs and gowns 
some awake and some asleep, and one talking, and nobody 
paying much attention to what he said. The Lord Chancellor 
leaned back in his very easy chair, with his elbow on the 
cushioned arm, and his forehead resting on his hand ; some 
of those who were present, dozed ; some read the newspapers ; 
some walked about, or whispered in groups : all seemed 
perfectly at their ease, by no means in a hurry, very uncon 
cerned, and extremely comfortable. 

To see everything going on so smoothly, and to think of 
the roughness of the suitors' lives and deaths ; to see all that 
full dress and ceremony, and to think of the waste, and want, 
and beggared misery it represented ; to consider that, while 
the sickness of hope deferred was raging in so many hearts, 
this polite show went calmly on from day to day, and year to 
year, in such good order and composure ; to behold the Lord 
Chancellor, and the whole array of practitioners under him, 
looking at one another and at the spectators, as if nobody 
had ever heard that all over England the name in which they 



NO HURRY WHATEVER. 



419 



were assembled was a bitter jest : was held in universal horror, 
contempt, and indignation was known for something so 
flagrant and bad, that little short of a miracle could bring 
any good out of it to any one : this was so curious and self- 
contradictory to me, who had no experience of it, that it was 
at first incredible, and I could not comprehend it. I sat 
where Richard put me, and tried to listen, and looked about 
me; but there seemed to be no reality in the whole scene, 
except poor little Miss Flite, the madwoman, standing on a 
bench, and nodding at it. 

Miss Flite soon espied us, and came to where we sat. She 
gave me a gracious welcome to her domain, and indicated, 
with much gratification and pride, its principal attractions. 
Mr. Kenge also came to speak to us, and did the honours of 
the place in much the same way ; with the bland modesty of 
a proprietor. It was not a very good day for a visit, he said ; 
he would have preferred the first day of term ; but it was 
imposing, it was imposing. 

When we had been there half an hour or so, the case in 
progress if I may use a phrase so ridiculous in such a 
connexion seemed to die out of its own vapidity, without 
coming, or being by anybody expected to come, to any result. 
The Lord Chancellor then threw down a bundle of papers 
from his desk to the gentlemen below him, and somebody 
said, " JARNDYCE AND JARNDYCE." Upon this there was a buzz, 
and a laugh, and a general withdrawal of the by-standers, 
and a bringing in of great heaps, and piles, and bags and 
bags-full of papers. 

I think it came on "for further directions," about some 
bill of costs, to the best of my understanding, which was 
confused enough. But I counted twenty-three gentlemen 
in wigs, who said they were "in it;" and none of them 
appeared to understand it much better than I. They chatted 
about it with the Lord Chancellor, and contradicted and ex 
plained among themselves, and some of them said it was 
thi:3 way, and some of them said it was that way, and some 



420 BLEAK HOUSE. 

of them jocosely proposed to read huge volumes of affidavits, 
and there was more buzzing and laughing, and everybody 
concerned was in a state of idle entertainment, and nothing 
could be made of it by anybody. After an hour or so of 
this, and a good many speeches being begun and cut short, 
it was "referred back for the present," as Mr. Kenge said, 
and the papers were bundled up again, before the clerks 
had finished bringing them in. 

I glanced at Richard, on the termination of these hopeless 
proceedings, and was shocked to see the worn look of his 
handsome young face. " It can't last for ever, Dame Burden. 
Better luck next time ! " was all he said. 

I had seen Mr. Guppy bringing in papers, and arranging 
them for Mr. Kenge; and he had seen me and made me a 
forlorn bow, which rendered me desirous to get out of the 
Court/ Richard had given me his arm, and was taking me 
away, when Mr. Guppy came up. 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Carstone," said he in a whisper, 
"and Miss Summerson's also; but there's a lady here, a 
friend of mine, who knows her, and wishes to have the 
pleasure of shaking hands." As he spoke, I saw before me, 
as if she had started into bodily shape from my remembrance, 
Mrs. Rachael of my godmother's house. 

" How do you do, Esther ? " said she. " Do you recollect 
me ? " 

1 gave her my hand, and told her yes, and that she was 
very little altered. 

" I wonder you remember those times, Esther," she returned 
with her old asperity. "They are changed now. Well! I 
am glad to see you, and glad you are not too proud to know 
me." But, indeed she seemed disappointed that I was not. 

" Proud, Mrs. Rachael ! " I remonstrated. 

" I am married, Esther," she returned, coldly correcting me, 
" and am Mrs. Chadband. Well ! I wish you good day, 
and I hope you'll do well." 

Mr. Guppy, who had been attentive to this short dialogue, 



GRIDLEY IN HIDING. 



421 



heaved a sigh in my ear, and elbowed his own and Mrs. 
RachaeFs way through the confused little crowd of people 
coming in and going out, which we were in the midst of, 
and which the change in the business had brought together. 
Richard and I were making our way through it, and I was 
yet in the first chill of the late unexpected recognition, when 
I saw, coming towards us, but not seeing us, no less a person 
than Mr. George. He made nothing of the people about 
him as he tramped or, staring over their heads into the body 
of the Court. 

" George 1 " said Richard, as I called his attention to him. 
"You are well met, sir," he returned. "And you, miss. 
Could you point a person out for me, I want? I don't 
understand these places. 1 ' 

Turning as he spoke, and making an easy way for us, he 
stopped when we were out of the press, in a corner behind a 
great red curtain. 

" There's a little cracked old woman," he began, " that " 

I put up my finger, for Miss Flite was close by me ; having 
kept beside me all the time, and having called the attention 
of several of her legal acquaintance to me (as I had overheard 
to my confusion), by whispering in their ears, " Hush ! Fitz- 
Jarndyce on my left ! " 

" Hem ! " said Mr. George. " You remember, miss, that 
we passed some conversation on a certain man this morning ? 
Gridley," in a low whisper behind his hand. 
"Yes," said I. 

"He is hiding at my place. I couldn't mention it. 
Hadn't his authority. He is on his last march, miss, and 
has a whim to see her. He says they can feel for one another, 
and she has been almost as good as a friend to him here. I 
came down to look for her; for when I sat by Gridley this 
afternoon, I seemed to hear the roll of the muffled drums." 
"Shall I tell her?" said I. 

"Would you be so good?" he returned, with a glance of 
something like apprehension at Miss Flite. " It's a Providence 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

I met you, miss ; I doubt if I should have known how to get 
on with that lady.' 1 And he put one hand in his breast, and 
stood upright in a martial attitude, as I informed little Miss 
Flite, in her ear, of the purport of his kind errand. 

" My angry friend from Shropshire ! Almost as celebrated 
as myself ! " she exclaimed. " Now really ! My dear, I will 
wait upon him with the greatest pleasure." 

" He is living concealed at Mr. George's," said I. " Hush ! 
This is Mr. George." 

"In deed!" returned Miss Flite. "Very proud to have 
the honour ! A military man, my dear. You know, a 
perfect General ! " she whispered to me. 

Poor Miss Flite deemed it necessary to be so courtly and 
polite, as a mark of her respect for the army, and to curtsey 
so very often, that it was no easy matter to get her out oi 
the Court. When this was at last done, and addressing Mr. 
George, as "General," she gave him her arm, to the great 
entertainment of some idlers who were looking on, he was so 
discomposed, and begged me so respectfully " not to desert 
him," that I could not make up my mind to do it ; especially 
as Miss Flite was always tractable with me, and as she too 
said, " Fitz- Jarndyce, my dear, you will accompany us, of 
course." As Richard seemed quite willing, and even anxious, 
that we should see them safely to their destination, we agreed 
to do so. And as Mr. George informed us that Gridley's mind 
had run on Mr. Jarndyce all the afternoon, after hearing 
their interview in the morning, I wrote a hasty note in 
pencil to my guardian to say where we were gone, and why. 
Mr. George sealed it at a coffee-house, that it might lead 
to no discovery, and we sent it off by a ticket-porter. 

We then took a hackney-coach, and drove away to tl 
neighbourhood of Leicester Square. We walked througl 
some narrow courts, for which Mr. George apologised, anc 
soon came to the Shooting Gallery, the door of which was 
closed. As he pulled a bell-handle which hung by a chain 
to the door-post, a very respectable old gentleman, with grej 



MUFFLED DRUMS. 



423 



hair, wearing spectacles, and dressed in a black spencer and 
gaiters and a broad- brimmed hat, and carrying a large gold- 
headed cane, addressed him. 

" I ask your pardon, my good friend,*" said he ; " but is 
this George's Shooting Gallery?"" 

" It is, sir, 1 ' returned Mr. George, glancing up at the great 
letters in which that inscription was painted on the white 
washed wall. 

" Oh ! To be sure ! " said the old gentleman, following his 
eyes. " Thank you. Have you rung the bell ? " 

" My name is George, sir, and I have rung the bell." 
"Oh, indeed?" said the old gentleman. "Your name is 
George ? Then I am here as soon as you, you see. You 
came for me, no doubt ? " 

" No, sir. You have the advantage of me." 
" Oh, indeed ? " said the old gentleman. " Then it was 
your young man who came for me. I am a physician, and 
was requested five minutes ago to come and visit a sick 
man, at George's Shooting Gallery." 

" The muffled drums," said Mr. George, turning to Richard 
and me, and gravely shaking his head. "It's quite correct, 
sir. Will you please to walk in?" 

The door being at that moment opened, by a very singular- 
looking little man in a green baize cap and apron, whose 
face, and hands, and dress, were blackened all over, we passed 
along a dreary passage into a large building with bare brick 
walls ; where there were targets, and guns, and swords, and 
other things of that kind. When we had all arrived here, 
the physician stopped, and, taking off his hat, appeared to 
vanish by magic, and to leave another and quite a different 
man in his place. 

" Now look'ee here, George," said the man, turning quickly 
round upon him, and tapping him on the breast with a 
large forefinger. " You know me, and I know you. You're 
a man of the world, and I'm a man of the world. My 
name's Bucket, as you are aware, and I have got a peace- 



424 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



warrant against Gridley. You have kept him out of the 
way a long time, and you have been artful in it, and it does 
you credit." 

Mr. George, looking hard at him, bit his lip and shook 
his head. 

"Now, George," said the other, keeping close to him, 
"you're a sensible man, and a well-conducted man; that's 
what you are, beyond a doubt. And mind you, I don't talk 
to you as a common character, because you have served your 
country, and you know that when duty calls we must obey. 
Consequently, you're very far from wanting to give trouble. 
If I required assistance, you'd assist me; that's what s/o 
do. Phil Squod, don't you go a-sidling round the gallery 
like that;" the dirty little man was shuffling about with 
his shoulder against the wall, and his eyes on the intruder, 
in a manner that looked threatening : " because I know you, 
and won't have it." 

"Phil!" said Mr. George. 

" Yes, guv'ner." 

" Be quiet." 

The little man, with a low growl, stood still. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Mr. Bucket, "you'll excuse 
anything that may appear to be disagreeable in this, for my 
name's Inspector Bucket of the Detective, and I have a duty 
to perform. George, I know where my man is, because I 
was on the roof last night, and saw him through the skylight, 
and you along with him. He is in there, you know," point 
ing; "that's where lie is on a sofy. Now I must see my 
man, and I must tell my man to consider himself in custody; 
but, you know me, and you know I don't want to take any 
uncomfortable measures. You give me your word, as from 
one man to another (and an old soldier, mind you, likewise !), 
that it's honourable between us two, and Fll accommodate 
you to the utmost of my power." 

"I give it," was the reply. "But it wasn't handsome in 
you, Mr. Bucket." 



GRIDLEY'S RETREAT. 425 

" Gammon, George ! Not handsome ? " said Mr. Bucket, 
tapping him on his broad breast again, and shaking hands 
with him. "I don't say it wasn't handsome in you to keep 
my man so close, do I ? Be equally good-tempered to me, 
old boy! Old William Tell, Old Shaw, the Life Guardsman! 
Why, he's a model of the whole British army in himself, 
ladies and gentlemen. I'd give a fifty-pun* 1 note to be such 
a figure of a man ! " 

The affair being brought to this head, Mr. George, after 
a little consideration, proposed to go in first to his comrade 
(as he called him), taking Miss Flite with him. Mr. Bucket 
agreeing, they went away to the further end of the gallery, 
leaving us sitting and standing by a table covered with guns. 
Mr. Bucket took this opportunity of entering into a little 
light conversation : asking me if I were afraid of fire-arms, 
as most young ladies were ; asking Richard if he were a 
good shot; asking Phil Squod which he considered the best 
of those rifles, and what it might be worth, first-hand ; telling 
him, in return, that it was a pity he ever gave way to his 
temper, for he was naturally so amiable, that he might have 
been a young woman; and making himself generally agreeable. 

After a time he followed us to the further end of the 
gallery, and Richard and I were going quietly away, when 
Mr. George came after us. He said that if we had no 
objection to see his comrade, he would take a visit from us 
very kindly. The words had hardly passed his lips, when the 
bell was rung, and my guardian appeared ; " on the chance," 
he slightly observed, " of being able to do any little thing 
for a poor fellow involved in the same misfortune as himself. 11 
We all four went back together, and went into the place 
where Gridley was. 

It was a bare room, partitioned off from the gallery with 
unpainted wood. As the screening was not more than eight 
or ten feet high, and only enclosed the sides, not the top, 
the rafters of the high gallery roof were overhead, and the 
skylight through which Mr. Bucket had looked down. The 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

sun was low near setting and its light came redly in 
above, without descending to the ground. Upon a plain 
canvas-covered sofa lay the man from Shropshire dressed 
much as we had seen him l.st, but so changed, that at first 
I recognised no likeness in his colourless face to what I 
recollected. 

He had been still writing in his hiding-place, and still 
dwelling on his grievances, hour after hour. A table and 
some shelves were covered with manuscript papers, and with 
worn pens, and a medley of such tokens. Touchingly and 
awfully drawn together, he and the little mad woman were 
side by side, and, as it were, alone. She sat on a chair 
holding his hand, and none of us went close to them. 

His voice had faded, with the old expression of his face, 
with his strength, with his anger, with his resistance to the 
wrongs that had at last subdued him. The faintest shadow 
of an object full of form and colour, is such a picture of it, 
as he was of the man from Shropshire whom we had spoken 
with before. 

He inclined his head to Richard and me, and spoke to my 
guardian. 

"Mr. Jarndyce, it is very kind of you to come to see me. 
I am not long to be seen, I think. I am very glad to take 
your hand, sir. You are a good man, superior to injustice, 
and God knows I honour you. 11 

They shook hands earnestly, and my guardian said some 
words of comfort to him. 

"It may seem strange to you, sir," returned Gridley; "I 
should not have liked to see you, if this had been the first 
time of our meeting. But, you know I made a fight for it, 
you know I stood up with my single hand against them all, 
you know I told them the truth to the last, and told them 
what they were, and what they had done to me ; so I don't 
mind your seeing me, this wreck."" 

"You have been courageous with them, many and many 
a time, 1 ' returned my guardian. 






MR. BUCKET OFFERS CONSOLATION. 427 

" Sir, I have been ; " with a faint smile. " I told you what 
would come of it, when I ceased to be so ; and, see here ! 
Look at us look at us!" He drew the hand Miss Flite 
held, through her arm, and brought her something nearer 
to him. 

"This ends it. Of all my old associations, of all my old 
pursuits and hopes, of all the living and the dead world, this 
one poor soul alone comes natural to me, and I am fit for. 
There is a tie of many suffering years between us two, and 
it is the only tie I ever had on earth that Chancery has not 
broken." 

"Accept my blessing, Gridley," said Miss Flite, in tears. 
" Accept my blessing ! " 

"I thought, boastfully, that they never could break my 
heart, Mr. Jarndyce. I was resolved that they should not. 
I did believe that I could, and would, charge them with being 
the mockery they were, until I died of some bodily disorder. 
But I am worn out. How long I have been wearing out, I 
don't know ; I seemed to break down in an hour. I hope 
they may never come to hear of it. I hope everybody, here, 
will lead them to believe that I died defying them, consistently 
and perseveringly, as I did through so many years." 

Here Mr. Bucket, who was sitting in a corner, by the 
door, good-naturedly offered such consolation as he could 
administer. 

" Come, come ! " he said from his corner. " Don't go on 
in that way, Mr. Gridley. You are only a little low. We 
are all of us a little low, sometimes. / am. Hold up, hold 
up ! You'll lose your temper with the whole round of 'em, 
again and again ; and I shall take you on a score of warrants 
yet, if I have luck." 

He only shook his head. 

"Don't shake your head," said Mr. Bucket. "Nod it; 
that's what I want to see you do. Why, Lord bless your 
soul, what times we have had together ! Haven't I seen you 
in the Fleet over and over again, for contempt ? Haven't I 



428 BLEAK HOUSE. 

come into Court, twen-ty afternoons, for no other purpose 
than to see you pin the Chancellor like a bull-dog? Don't 
you remember, when you first began to threaten the lawyers, 
and the peace was sworn against you two or three times a 
week ? Ask the little old lady there ; she has been always 
present. Hold up, Mr. Gridley, hold up, sir ! " 

" What are you going to do about him ? " asked George, 
in a low voice. 

" I don't know yet," said Bucket, in the same tone. Then 
resuming his encouragement, he pursued aloud : 

" Worn out, Mr. Gridley ? After dodging me for all these 
weeks, and forcing me to climb the roof here like a Tom Cat, 
and to come to see you as a Doctor ? That ain't like being 
worn out. / should think not ! Now I tell you what you 
want. You want excitement, you know, to keep you up; 
that's what you want. You're used to it, and you can't do 
without it. I couldn't myself. Very well, then ; here's this 
warrant got by Mr. Tulkinghorn of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and 
backed into half-a-dozen counties since. What do you say 
to coming along with me, upon this warrant, and having a 
good angry argument before the Magistrates ? It'll do you 
good ; it'll freshen you up, and get you into training for 
another turn at the Chancellor. Give in ? Why, I am sur 
prised to hear a man of your energy talk of giving in. You 
mustn't do that. You're half the fun of the fair, in the 
Court of Chancery. George, you lend Mr. Gridley a hand, 
and let's see now whether he won't be better up than down." 

" He is very weak," said the trooper, in a low voice. 

" Is he ? " returned Bucket, anxiously. " I only want to 
rouse him. I don't like to see an old acquaintance giving in 
like this. It would cheer him up more than anything, if I 
could make him a little waxy with me. He's welcome to 
drop into me, right and left, if he likes. I shall never take 
advantage of it." 

The roof rang with a scream from Miss Elite, which still 
rings in my ears. 



GRIDLEY'S LAST REFUGE. 429 

" O no, Gridley ! " she cried, as he fell heavily and calmly 
back from before her, "not without my blessing. After so 
many years ! " 

The sun was down, the light had gradually stolen from the 
roof, and the shadow had crept upward. But, to me, the 
shadow of that pair, one living and one dead, fell heavier on 
Richard's departure, than the darkness of the darkest night. 
And through Richard's farewell words I heard it echoed : 

"Of all my old associations, of all my old pursuits and 
hopes, of all the living and the dead world, this one poor 
soul alone comes natural to me, and I am fit for. There is a 
tie of many suffering years between us two, and it is the only 
tie I ever had on earth that Chancery has not broken ! " 



CHAPTER XXV. 

MRS. SNAGSBY SEES IT ALL. 

THERE is disquietude in Cook's Court, Cursitor Street. Black 
suspicion hides in that peaceful region. The mass of CookV 
Courtiers are in their usual state of mind, no better and no 
worse ; but, Mr. Snagsby is changed, and his little woman 
knows it. 

For, Tom-all-Alone's and Lincoln's Inn Fields persist in 
harnessing themselves, a pair of ungovernable coursers, to the 
chariot of Mr. Snagsby's imagination ; and Mr. Bucket drives ; 
and the passengers are Jo and Mr. Tulkinghorn ; and the 
complete equipage whirls through the Law Stationery business 
at wild speed, all round the clock. Even in the little front 
kitchen where the family meals are taken, it rattles away at 
a smoking pace from the dinner-table, when Mr. Snagsby 
pauses in carving the first slice of the leg of mutton baked 
with potatoes, and stares at the kitchen wall. 

Mr. Snagsby cannot make out what it is that he has 
had to do with. Something is wrong, somewhere; but what 
something, what may come of it, to whom, when, and from 
which unthought-of and unheard-of quarter, is the puzzle of 
his life. His remote impressions of the robes and coronets, 
the stars and garters, that sparkle through the surface-dust 
of Mr. Tulkinghorn's chambers ; his veneration for the 
mysteries presided over by that best and closest of his 
customers, whom all the Inns of Court, all Chancery Lane, 



MR. SNAGSBY'S SECRET. 431 

and all the legal neighbourhood agree to hold in awe; his 
remembrance of Detective Mr. Bucket with his forefinger, 
and his confidential manner impossible to be evaded or 
declined ; persuade him that he is a party to some dangerous 
secret, without knowing what it is. And it is the fearful 
peculiarity of this condition that, at any hour of his daily 
life, at any opening of the shop-door, at any pull of the bell, 
at any entrance of a messenger, or any delivery of a letter, 
the secret may take air and fire, explode, and blow up Mr. 
Bucket only knows whom. 

For which reason, whenever a man unknown comes into the 
shop (as many men unknown do), and says, " Is Mr. Snagsby 
in?" or words to that innocent effect, Mr. Snagsby's heart 
knocks hard at his guilty breast. He undergoes so much 
from such inquiries, that when they are made by boys he 
revenges himself by flipping at their ears over the counter, 
and asking the young dogs what they mean by it, and why 
they can't speak out at once ? More impracticable men and 
boys persist in walking into Mr. Snagsby's sleep, and terrify 
ing him with unaccountable questions ; so that often, when 
the cock at the little dairy in Cursitor Street breaks out in 
his usual absurd way about the morning, Mr. Snagsby finds 
himself in a crisis of nightmare, with his little woman shaking 
him, and saying, " What's the matter with the man ! " 

The little woman herself is not the least item in his 
difficulty. To know that he is always keeping a secret from 
her ; that he has, under all circumstances, to conceal and hold 
fast a tender double tooth, which her sharpness is ever ready 
to twist out of his head ; gives Mr. Snagsby, in her dentistical 
presence, much of the air of a dog who has a reservation from 
his master, and will look anywhere rather than meet his eye. 

These various signs and tokens, marked by the little woman, 
are not lost upon her. They impel her to say, " Snagsby has 
something on his mind ! " And thus suspicion gets into Cook's 
Court, Cursitor Street. From suspicion to jealousy, Mrs. 
Snagsby finds the road as natural and short as from Cook's 



432 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Court to Chancery Lane. And thus jealousy gets into Cook's 
Court, Cursitor Street. Once there (and it was always lurk 
ing thereabout), it is very active and nimble in Mrs. Snagsby's 
breast prompting her to nocturnal examinations of Mr. 
Snagsby's pockets ; to secret perusals of Mr. Snagsby's letters ; 
to private researches in the Day Book and Ledger, till, cash- 
box, and iron safe ; to watchings at windows, listenings 
behind doors, and a general putting of this and that together 
by the wrong end. 

Mrs. Snagsby is so perpetually on the alert, that the house 
becomes ghostly with creaking boards and rustling garments. 
The 'prentices think somebody may have been murdered 
there, in bygone times. Guster holds certain loose atoms of 
an idea (picked up at Tooting, where they were found floating 
among the orphans), that there is buried money underneath 
the cellar, guarded by an old man with a white beard, who 
cannot get out for seven thousand years, because he said the 
Lord's Prayer backwards. 

" Who was Nimrod ? " Mrs. Snagsby repeatedly inquires of 
herself. "Who was that lady that creature? And who is 
that boy ? " Now, Nimrod being as dead as the mighty hunter 
whose name Mrs. Snagsby has appropriated, and the lady 
being unproducible, she directs her mental eye, for the present, 
with redoubled vigilance, to the boy. "And who," quoth 
Mrs. Snagsby, for the thousand and first time, " is that boy ? 

Who is that ! " And there Mrs. Snagsby is seized with 

an inspiration. 

He has no respect for Mr. Chadband. No, to be sure, 
and he wouldn't have, of course. Naturally he wouldn't, 
under those contagious circumstances. He was invited and 
appointed by Mr. Chadband why, Mrs. Snagsby heard it 
herself with her own ears ! to come back, and be told where 
he was to go, to be addressed by Mr. Chadband; and he 
never came ! Why did he never come ? Because he was told 
not to come. Who told him not to come? Who? Ha, 
ha ! Mrs. Snagsby sees it all. 



A VERY TOUGH SUBJECT. 



433 



But happily (and Mrs. Snagsby tightly shakes her head 
and tightly smiles), that boy was met by Mr. Chadband yester 
day in the streets ; and that boy, as affording a subject which 
Mr. Chadband desires to improve for the spiritual delight 
of a select congregation, was seized by Mr. Chadband and 
threatened with being delivered over to the police, unless he 
showed the reverend gentleman where he lived, and unless 
he entered into, and fulfilled, an undertaking to appear in 
Cook's Court to-morrow night "to mor row night," Mrs. 
Snagsby repeats for mere emphasis, with another tight smile, 
and another tight shake of her head; and to-morrow night 
that boy will be here, and to-morrow night Mrs. Snagsby will 
have her eye upon him and upon some one else; and O you 
may walk a long while in your secret ways (says Mrs. Snagsby, 
with haughtiness and scorn), but you can't blind ME ! 

Mrs. Snagsby sounds no timbrel in anybody's ears, but holds 
her purpose quietly, and keeps her counsel. To-morrow comes, 
the savoury preparations for the Oil Trade come, the evening 
Comes, Mr. Snagsby in his black coat; come, the 



comes. 



Chadbands; come (when the gorging vessel is replete), the 
'prentices and Guster, to be edified; comes, at last, with his 
slouching head, and his shuffle backward, and his shuffle 
forward, and his shuffle to the right, and his shuffle to the 
left, and his bit of fur cap in his muddy hand, which he 
picks as if it were some mangy bird he had caught, and was 
plucking before eating raw, Jo, the very, very tough subject 
Mr. Chadband is to improve. 

Mrs. Snagsby screws a watchful glance on Jo, as he is 
brought into the little drawing-room by Guster. He looks 
it Mr. Snagsby the moment he comes in. Aha ! Why does 

look at Mr. Snagsby? Mr. Snagsby looks at him. Why 
should he do that, but that Mrs. Snagsby sees it all ? Why 
else should that look pass between them, why else should Mr. 
Snagsby be confused, and cough a signal cough behind his hand? 
It is as clear as crystal that Mr. Snagsby is that boy's father. 

"Peace, my friends," says Chadband, rising and wiping the 

VOL. I. 2 F 



434 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



oily exudations from his reverend visage. "Peace be with 
us ! My friends, why with us ? Because," with his fat smile, 
"it cannot be against us, because it must be for us; because 
it is not hardening, because it is softening ; because it does 
not make war like the hawk, but comes home untoe us like 
the dove. Therefore, my friends, peace be with us! My 
human boy, come forward ! " 

Stretching forth his flabby paw, Mr. Chadband lays the 
same on Jo's arm, and considers where to station him. Jo, 
very doubtful of his reverend friend's intentions, and not at 
all clear but that something practical and painful is going to 
be done to him, mutters, "You let me alone. I never said 
nothink to you. You let me alone." 

" No, my young friend," says Chadband, smoothly, " I will 
not let you alone. And why? Because I am a harvest- 
labourer, because I am a toiler and a moiler, because you are 
delivered over untoe me, and are become as a precious in-* 
strument in my hands. My friends, may I so employ this 
instrument as to use it toe your advantage, toe your profit, 
toe your gain, toe your welfare, toe your enrichment ! My 
young friend, sit upon this stool." 

Jo, apparently possessed by an impression that the reverend 
gentleman wants to cut his hair, shields his head with both 
arms, and is got into the required position with great diffi 
culty, and every possible manifestation of reluctance. 

When he is at last adjusted like a lay -figure, Mr. Chadband, 
retiring behind the table, holds up his beards-paw, and say; 
" My friends ! " This is the signal for a general settlement ol 
the audience. The 'prentices giggle internally, and nu< 
each other. Guster falls into a staring and vacant stai 
compounded of a stunned admiration of Mr. Chadband an< 
pity for the friendless outcast whose condition touches he 
nearly. Mrs. Snagsby silently lays trains of gunpowder. Mi 
Chadband composes herself grimly by the fire, and warms 
knees : finding that sensation favourable to the reception 
eloquence. 



A GENTILE AND A HEATHEN. 435 

It happens that Mr. Chadband has a pulpit habit of fixing 
some member of his congregation with his eye, and fatly 
arguing his points with that particular person ; who is under 
stood, to be expected to be moved to an occasional grunt, 
groan, gasp, or other audible expression of inward working; 
which expression of inward working, being echoed by some 
elderly lady in the next pew, and so communicated, like 
a game of forfeits, through a circle of the more fermentable 
sinners present, serves the purpose of parliamentary cheering, 
and gets Mr. Chadband's steam up. From mere force of 
habit, Mr. Chadband in saying " My friends ! " has rested his 
eye on Mr. Snagsby ; and proceeds to make that ill-starred 
stationer, already sufficiently confused, the immediate recipient 
of his discourse. 

" We have here among us, my friends," says Chadband, " a 
Gentile and a Heathen, a dweller in the tents of Tom-all- 
Alone's and a mover-on upon the surface of the earth. We 
have here among us, my friends," and Mr. Chadband, untwist 
ing the point with his dirty thumb-nail, bestows an oily smile 
on Mr. Snagsby, signifying that he will throw him an argu 
mentative back-fall presently if he be not already down, "a 
brother and a boy. Devoid of parents, devoid of relations, 
devoid of flocks and herds, devoid of gold and silver, and of 
precious stones. Now, my friends, why do I say he is devoid 
of these possessions ? Why ? Why is he ? " Mr. Chadband 
states the question as if he were propounding an entirely new 
riddle, of much ingenuity and merit, to Mr. Snagsby, and 
entreating him not to give it up. 

Mr. Snagsby, greatly perplexed by the mysterious look he 
received just now from his little woman at about the period 
when Mr. Chadband mentioned the word parents is tempted 
into modestly remarking, "I don't know, I'm sure, sir." On 
which interruption, Mrs. Chadband glares, and Mrs. Snagsby 
says, " For shame ! " 

" I hear a voice," says Chadband ; " is it a still small voice, 
my friends ? I fear not, though I fain would hope so " 



436 BLEAK HOUSE. 

("Ah h!" from Mrs. Snagsby.) 

"Which says, I don't know. Then I will tell you why. 
I say this brother, present here among us, is devoid of 
parents, devoid of relations, devoid of flocks and herds, devoid 
of gold, of silver, and of precious stones, because he is devoid 
of the light that shines in upon some of us. What is that 
light ? What is it ? I ask you what is that light ? " 

Mr. Chadband draws back his head and pauses, but Mr. 
Snagsby is not to be lured on to his destruction again. 
Mr. Chadband, leaning forward over the table, pierces what 
he has got to follow, directly into Mr. Snagsby, with the 
thumb-nail already mentioned. 

" It is," says Chadband, " the ray of rays, the sun of suns, 
the moon of moons, the star of stars. It is the light of 
Terewth." 

Mr. Chadband draws himself up again, and looks trium 
phantly at Mr. Snagsby, as if he would be glad to know how 
he feels after that. 

"Of Terewth," says Mr. Chadband, hitting him again. 
"Say not to me it is not the lamp of lamps. I say to 
you, it is. I say to you, a million times over, it is. It is ! 
I say to you that I will proclaim it to you, whether you like 
it or not; nay, that the less you like it, the more I will 
proclaim it to you. With a speaking-trumpet ! I say to you 
that if you rear yourself against it, you shall fall, you shall 
be bruised, you shall be battered, you shall be flawed, you 
shall be smashed/'' 

The present effect of this flight of oratory much admired 
for its general power by Mr. Chadband's followers being 
not only to make Mr. Chadband unpleasantly warm, but to 
represent the innocent Mr. Snagsby in the light of a deter 
mined enemy to virtue, with a forehead of brass and a heart of 
adamant, that unfortunate tradesman becomes yet more dis 
concerted ; and is in a very advanced state of low spirits and 
false position, when Mr. Chadband accidentally finishes him. 

"My friends,"" he resumes, after dabbing his fat head for 



WHAT IS TEREWTH? 457 

some time and it smokes to such an extent that he seems to 
light his pocket-handkerchief at it, which smokes, too, after 
every dab "to pursue the subject we are endeavouring with 
our lowly gifts to improve, let us in a spirit of love inquire 
what is that Terewth to which I have alluded. For, my 
young friends," suddenly addressing the 'prentices and Guster, 
to their consternation, "if I am told by the doctor that 
calomel or castor-oil is good for me, I may naturally ask what 
is calomel, and what is castor-oil. I may wish to be informed 
of that, before I dose myself with either or with both. Now, 
my young friends, what is this Terewth, then? Firstly (in 
a spirit of love), what is the common sort of Terewth the 
working clothes the every-day wear, my young friends ? Is 
it deception ? " 

(" Ah h ! " from Mrs. Snagsby.) 

"Is it suppression?" 

(A shiver in the negative from Mrs. Snagsby.) 

"Is it reservation?" 

(A shake of the head from Mrs. Snagsby very long and 
very tight.) 

" No, my friends, it is neither of these. Neither of these 
names belongs to it. When this young Heathen now among 
us who is now, my friends, asleep, the seal of indifference 
and perdition being set upon his eyelids; but do not wake 
him, for it is right that I should have to wrestle, and to 
combat and to struggle, and to conquer, for his sake when 
this young hardened Heathen told us a story of a Cock, and 
of a Bull, and of a lady, and of a sovereign, was that the 
Terewth? No. Or, if it was partly, was it wholly, and 
entirely ? No, my friends, no ! " 

If Mr. Snagsby could withstand his little woman's look, 
as it enters at his eyes, the windows of his soul, and searches 
the whole tenement, he were other than the man he is. He 
cowers and droops. 

"Or, my juvenile friends," says Chadband, descending to 
the level of their comprehension, with a very obtrusive 



438 BLEAK HOUSE. 

demonstration, in his greasily mek smile, of coming a long 
way down-stairs for the purpose, " if the master of this house 
was to go forth into the city and there see an eel, and was 
to come back, and was to call untoe him the mistress of this 
house, and was to say, 'Sarah, rejoice with me, for I have 
seen an elephant ! ' would that be Terewth ? " 

Mrs. Snagsby in tears. 

" Or put it, my juvenile friends, that he saw an elephant, 
and returning said, 'Lo, the city is ban-en, I have seen but 
an eel, 1 would that be Terewth ? " 

Mrs. Snagsby sobbing loudly. 

" Or put it, my juvenile friends," said Chadband, stimulated 
by the sound, " that the unnatural parents of this slumbering 
Heathen for parents he had, my juvenile friends, beyond a 
doubt after casting him forth to the wolves and the vultures, 
and the wild dogs and the young gazelles, and the serpents, 
went back to their dwellings and had their pipes, and their 
pots, and their flutings and their dancings, and their malt 
liquors, and their butcher's meat and poultry, would that be 
Terewth!" 

Mrs. Snagsby replies by delivering herself a prey to spasms ; 
not an unresisting prey, but a crying and a tearing one, so that 
Cook's Court re-echoes with her shrieks. Finally, becoming 
cataleptic, she has to be carried up the narrow staircase like 
a grand piano. After unspeakable suffering, productive of the 
utmost consternation, she is pronounced, by expresses from 
the bedroom, free from pain, though much exhausted; in 
which state of affairs Mr. Snagsby, trampled and crushed in 
the pianoforte removal, and extremely timid and feeble, ven 
tures to come out from behind the door in the drawing-room. 

All this time, Jo has been standing on the spot where he 
woke up, ever picking his cap, and putting bits of fur in his 
mouth. He spits them out with a remorseful air, for he feels 
that it is in his nature to be an unimprovable reprobate, and 
that it's no good his trying to keep awake, for he won't never 
know nothink. Though it may be, Jo, that there is a history 



A TOUCH OF COMPASSION. 439 

so interesting and affecting even to minds as near the brutes 
as thine, recording deeds done on this earth for common men, 
that if the Chad bands, removing their own persons from the 
light, would but show it thee in simple reverence, would but 
leave it unimproved, would but regard it as being eloquent 
enough without their modest aid it might hold thee awake, 
and thou might learn from it yet ! 

Jo never heard of any such book. Its compilers, and the 
Reverend Chadband, are all one to him except that he knows 
the Reverend Chadband, and would rather run away from 
him for an hour than hear him talk for five minutes. " It 
an't no good my waiting here no longer, 1 ' thinks Jo. "Mr. 
Snagsby an't a-going to say nothink to me to-night." And 
down-stairs he shuffles. 

But down-stairs is the charitable Guster, holding by the 
handrail of the kitchen stairs, and warding off a fit, as yet 
doubtfully, the same having been induced by Mrs. Snagsby's 
screaming. She has her own supper of bread and cheese to 
hand to Jo ; with whom she ventures to interchange a word 
or so, for the first time. 

"Here's something to eat, poor boy," says Guster. 

"Thank'ee, mum, 11 says Jo. 

" Are you hungry ? " 

" Jist ! 11 says Jo. 

" What's gone of your father and your mother, eh ? " 

Jo stops in the middle of a bite, and looks petrified. For 
this orphan charge of the Christian saint whose shrine was 
at Tooting, has patted him on the shoulder; and it is the 
first time in his life that any decent hand has been so laid 
upon him. 

" I never know'd nothink about 'em," says Jo. 

" No more didn't I of mine, 11 cries Guster. She is repress 
ing symptoms favourable to the fit, when she seems to take 
alarm at something, and vanishes down the stairs. 

"Jo," whispers the law -stationer softly, as the boy lingers 
on the step. 



440 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" Here I am, Mr. Snagsby ! " 

" I didn't know you were gone there's another half-crown, 
Jo. It was quite right of you to say nothing about the lady 
the other night when we were out together. It would breed 
trouble. You can't be too quiet, Jo." 

"I am fly, master!" 

And so, good night. 

A ghostly shade, frilled and night-capped, follows the law- 
stationer to the room he came from, and glides higher up. 
And henceforth he begins, go where he will, to be attended 
by another shadow than his own, hardly less constant than 
his own, hardly less quiet than his own. And into whatsoever 
atmosphere of secrecy his own shadow may pass, let all con 
cerned in the secrecy beware ! For the watchful Mrs. Snagsby 
is there too bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, shadow of 
his shadow. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

SHARPSHOOTERS. 

WINTRY morning, looking with dull eyes and sallow face upon 
the neighbourhood of Leicester Square, finds its inhabitants 
unwilling to get out of bed. Many of them are not early 
risers at the brightest of times, being birds of night who 
roost when the sun is high, and are wide awake and keen for 
prey when the stars shine out. Behind dingy blind and cur 
tain, in upper story and garret, skulking more or less under 
false names, false hair, false titles, false jewellery, and false 
histories, a colony of brigands lie in their first sleep. Gentle 
men of the green baize road who could discourse, from 
personal experience, of foreign galleys and home treadmills ; 
spies of strong governments that eternally quake with weak 
ness and miserable fear, broken traitors, cowards, bullies, 
gamesters, shufflers, swindlers, and false witnesses; some not 
unmarked by the branding-iron, beneath their dirty braid ; 
all with more cruelty in them than was in Nero, and more 
crime than is in Newgate. For, howsoever bad the devil can 
be in fustian or smock-frock (and he can be very bad in both), 
he is a more designing, callous, and intolerable devil when he 
sticks a pin in his shirt-front, calls himself a gentleman, backs 
a card or colour, plays a game or so of billiards, and knows 
a little about bills and promissory notes, than in any other 
form he wears. And in such form Mr. Bucket shall find 
him, when he will, still pervading the tributary channels of 
Leicester Square. 



442 BLEAK HOUSE. 

But the wintry morning wants him not and wakes him 
not. It wakes Mr. George of the Shooting Gallery, and his 
Familiar. They arise, roll up and stow away their mattresses. 
Mr. George, having shaved himself before a looking-glass of 
minute proportions, then marches out, bare-headed and bare- 
chested, to the Pump, in the little yard, and anon comes back 
shining with yellow soap, friction, drifting rain, and exceed 
ingly cold water. As he rubs himself upon a large jack-towel, 
blowing like a military sort of diver just come up : his crisp 
hair curling tighter and tighter on his sunburnt temples, the 
more he rubs it, so that it looks as if it never could be 
loosened by any less coercive instrument than an iron rake or 
a curry-comb as he rubs, and puffs, and polishes, and blows, 
turning his head from side to side, the more conveniently to 
excoriate his throat, and standing with his body well bent 
forward, to keep the wet from his martial legs Phil, on his 
knees lighting a fire, looks round as if it were enough wash 
ing for him to see all that done, and sufficient renovation, 
for one day, to take in the superfluous health his master 
throws off. 

When Mr. George is dry, he goes to work to brush his 
head with two hard brushes at once, to that unmerciful 
degree that Phil, shouldering his way round the gallery in 
the act of sweeping it, winks with sympathy. This chafing 
over, the ornamental part of Mr. George's toilet is soon per 
formed. He fills his pipe, lights it, and marches up and down 
smoking, as his custom is, while Phil, raising a power fql 
odour of hot rolls and coffee, prepares breakfast. He smokes 
gravely, and marches in slow time. Perhaps this morning <> s 
pipe is devoted to the memory of Gridley in his grave. 

" And so, Phil, 11 says George of the Shooting Gallery, after 
several turns in silence; "you were dreaming of the country 
last night?" 

Phil, by-the-bye, said as much, in a tone of surprise, as he 
scrambled out of bed. 

" Yes, guv'ner." 



MR. GEORGE AND HIS MAN PHIL. 443 

"What was it like?" 

"I hardly know what it was like, guv'ner," said Phil, 
considering. 

" How did you know it was the country ? " 

" On account of the grass, I think. And the swans upon 
it," says Phil, after further consideration. 

" What were the swans doing on the grass ? " 

" They was a-eating of it, I expect," says Phil. 

The master resumes his march, and the man resumes his 
preparation of breakfast. It is not necessarily a lengthened 
preparation, being limited to the setting forth of very simple 
breakfast requisites for two, and the broiling of a rasher of 
bacon at the fire in the rusty grate ; but as Phil has to sidle 
round a considerable part of the gallery for every object he 
wants, and never brings two objects at once, it takes time 
under the circumstances. At length the breakfast is ready. 
Phil announcing it, Mr. George knocks the ashes out of his 
pipe on the hob, stands his pipe itself in the chimney corner, 
and sits down to the meal. When he has helped himself, 
Phil follows suit; sitting at the extreme end of the little 
oblong table, and taking his plate on his knees. Either in 
humility, or to hide his blackened hands, or because it is his 
natural manner of eating. 

" The country," says Mr. George, plying his knife and fork ; 
" why, I suppose you never clapped your eyes on the country, 
Phil?" 

"I see the marshes once," says Phil, contentedly eating his 
breakfast. 

" What marshes ? " 

" The marshes, commander," returns Phil. 

"Where are they?" 

" I don't know where they are," says Phil ; " but I see 'em, 
guv'ner. They was flat. And miste." 

Governor and Commander are interchangeable terms with 
Phil, expressive of the same respect and deference, and 
applicable to nobody but Mr. George. 



444 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"I was born in the country, Phil. 1 " 

" Was you indeed, commander ? " 

" Yes. And bred there." 

Phil elevates his one eyebrow, and, after respectfully 
staring at his master to express interest, swallows a great 
gulp of coffee, still staring at him. 

"There's not a bird's note that I don't know," says Mr. 
George. "Not many an English leaf or berry that I 
couldn't name. Not many a tree that I couldn't climb yet, 
if I was put to it. I was a real country boy, once. My 
good mother lived in the country." 

" She must have been a fine old lady, guv'ner," Phil 
observes. 

" Ay ! and not so old either, five-and- thirty years ago," 
says Mr. George. " But I'll wager that at ninety she would 
be near as upright as me, and near as broad across the 
shoulders." 

" Did she die at ninety, guv'ner ? " inquires Phil. 

" No. Bosh ! Let her rest in peace, God bless her ! " says 
the trooper. "What set me on about country boys, and 
runaways, and good-for-nothings ? You, to be sure ! So you 
never clapped your eyes upon the country marshes and 
dreams excepted. Eh?" 

Phil shakes his head. 

" Do you want to see it ? " 

"N-no, I don't know as I do, particular," says Phil. 

"The town's enough for you, eh?" 

" Why you see, commander," says Phil, " I ain't acquainted 
with anythink else, and I doubt if I ain't a-getting too old 
to take to novelties." 

"How old are you, Phil?" asks the trooper, pausing as 
he conveys his smoking saucer to his lips. 

" I'm something with a eight in it," says Phil. " It can't 
be eighty. Nor yet eighteen. It's betwixt 'em, some- 
wheres." 

Mr. George, slowly putting down his saucer without tasting 



PHIL'S AGE. 445 

its contents, is laughingly beginning, " Why, what the deuce, 
Phil," when he stops, seeing that Phil is counting on his 
dirty fingers. 

"I was just eight," says Phil, "agreeable to the parish 
calculation, when I went with the tinker. I was sent on a 
errand, and I see him a sittin under a old buildin with a fire 
all to himself wery comfortable, and he says, ' Would you like 
to come along a me, my man ? ' I says ' Yes,' and him and 
me and the fire goes home to Clerkenwell together. That 
was April Fool Day. I was able to count up to ten; and 
when April Fool Day come round again, I says to myself, 
'Now, old chap, you're one and a eight in it. 1 April Fool 
Day after that, 'Now, old chap, you're two and a eight in 
it." 1 In course of time, I come to ten and a eight in it ; two 
tens and a eight in it. When it got so high, it got the 
upper hand of me ; but this is how I always know there's a 
eight in it." 

" Ah ! " says Mr. George, resuming his breakfast. " And 
where's the tinker?" 

" Drink put him in the hospital, guv'ner, and the hospital 
put him in a glass case, I have heerd," Phil replies 
mysteriously. 

" By that means you got promotion ? Took the business, 
Phil?" 

"Yes, commander, I took the business. Such as it was. 
It wasn't much of a beat round Saffron Hill, Hatton 
Garden, Clerkenwell, Smiffeld, and there poor neighbour 
hood, where they uses up the kettles till they're past mend 
ing. Most of the tramping tinkers used to come and lodge 
at our place ; that was the best part of my master's earnings. 
But they didn't come to me. I warn't like him. He could 
sing 'em a good song. 7 couldn't ! He could play 'em a 
tune on any sort of pot you please, so as it was iron or 
block tin. / never could do nothing with a pot, but mend 
it or bile it never had a note of music in me. Besides, I 
was too ill-looking, and their wives complained of me." 



446 BLEAK HOUSE. 

" They were mighty particular. You would pass muster in 
a crowd, Phil ! " says the trooper with a pleasant smile. 

"No, guv'ner," returns Phil, shaking his head. "No, I 
shouldn't. I was passable enough when I went with the 
tinker, though nothing to boast of then : but what with blow 
ing the fire with my mouth when I was young, and spileing 
my complexion, and singeing my hair off, and swallering the 
smoke ; and what with being natVally unforfnate in the way 
of running against hot metal, and marking myself by sich 
means ; and what with having turn-ups with the tinker as I 
got older, almost whenever he was too far gone in drink 
which was almost always my beauty was queer, wery queer, 
even at that time. As to since; what with a dozen years in 
a dark forge, where the men was given to larking; and what 
with being scorched in a accident at a gas-works ; and what 
with being blowed out of winder, case-filling at the firework 
business ; I am ugly enough to be made a show on ! " 

Resigning himself to which condition with a perfectly 
satisfied manner, Phil begs the favour of another cup of coffee. 
While drinking it, he says : 

" It was after the case-filling blow-up, when I first see you, 
commander. You remember?" 

" I remember, Phil. You were walking along in the sun." 

" Crawling, guv'ner, again a wall " 

" True, Phil shouldering your way on " 

" In a nightcap ! " exclaims Phil, excited. 

" In a nightcap " 

"And hobbling with a couple of sticks!" cries Phil, still 
more excited. 

"With a couple of sticks. When " 

" When you stops, you know," cries Phil, putting down his 
cup and saucer, and hastily removing his plate from his knees, 
" and says to me, ' What, comrade ! You have been in the 
wars ! ' I didn't say much to you, commander, then, for I 
was took by surprise, that a person so strong and healthy 
and bold as you was, should stop to speak to such a limping 



PHIL AT THE COMMANDER'S DISPOSAL. 447 

bag of bones as I was. But you says to me, says you, deliver 
ing it out of your chest as hearty as possible, so that it was 
like a glass of something hot, ' What accident have you met 
with ? You have been badly hurt. What's amiss, old boy ? 
Cheer up, and tell us about it ! ' Cheer up ! I was cheered 
already ! I says as much to you, you says more to me, I 
says more to you, you says more to me, and here I am, 
commander ! Here I am, commander ! " cries Phil, who has 
started from his chair and unaccountably begun to sidle 
away. " If a mark's wanted, or if it will improve the business, 
let the customers take aim at me. They can't spoil my 
beauty, /'in all right. Come on ! If they want a man to 
box at, let 'em box at me. Let 'em knock me well about the 
head. / don't mind ! If they want a light-weight, to be 
throwed for practice, Cornwall, Devonshire, or Lancashire, let 
'em throw me. They won't hurt me. I have been throwed, 
all sorts of styles, all my life ! " 

With this unexpected speech, energetically delivered, and 
accompanied by action illustrative of the various exercises 
referred to, Phil Squod shoulders his way round three sides 
of the gallery, and abruptly tacking off at his commander, 
makes a butt at him with his head, intended to express 
devotion to his service. He then begins to clear away the 
breakfast. 

Mr. George, after laughing cheerfully, and clapping him 
on the shoulder, assists in these arrangements, and helps to get 
the gallery into business order. That done, he takes a turn at 
the dumb-bells ; and afterwards weighing himself, and opining 
that he is getting " too fleshy," engages with great gravity in 
solitary broadsword practice. Meanwhile, Phil has fallen to 
work at his usual table, where he screws and unscrews, and 
cleans, and files, and whistles into small apertures, and 
blackens himself more and more, and seems to do and undo 
everything that can be done and undone about a gun. 

Master and man are at length disturbed by footsteps in the 
passage, where they make an unusual sound, denoting the 



448 BLEAK HOUSE. 

arrival of unusual t company. These steps, advancing nearer 
and nearer to the gallery, bring into it a group, at first sight 
scarcely reconcilable with any day in the year but the fifth of 
November. 

It consists of a limp and ugly figure earned in a chair by 
two bearers, and attended by a lean female with a face like a 
pinched mask, who might be expected immediately to recite 
the popular verses, commemorative of the time when they did 
contrive to blow Old England up alive, but for her keep ng 
her lips tightly and defiantly closed as the chair is put 
down. At which point, the figure in it gasping, " O Lord ! 
O dear me ! I am shaken ! " adds, " How de do, my dear 
friend, how de do?" Mr. George then descries, in the pro 
cession, the venerable Mr. Smallweed out for an airing, 
attended by his grand-daughter Judy as body-guard. 

" Mr. George, my dear friend,*" says Grandfather Smallweed, 
removing his right arm from the neck of one of his bearers, 
whom he has nearly throttled coming along, "how de do? 
You're surprised to see me, my dear friend. 11 

"I should hardly have been more surprised to have seen 
your friend in the city," returns Mr. George. 

" I am very seldom out," pants Mr. Smallweed. " I haven't 
been out for many months. It's inconvenient and it comes 
expensive. But I longed so much to see you, my dear Mr. 
George. How de do, sir?" 

" I am well enough," says Mr. George. " I hope you are 
the same." 

"You can't be too well, my dear friend." Mr. Smallweed 
takes him by both hands. " I have brought my grand-daughter 
Judy. I couldn't keep her away. She longed so much to 
see you." 

" Hum ! She bears it calmly ! " mutters Mr. George. 

"So we got a hackney-cab, and put a chair in it, and just 
round the corner they lifted me out of the cab and into the 
chair, and carried me here, that I might see my dear friend 
in his own establishment ! This," says Grandfather Smallweed, 



i 



PHIL IS VERY PROMPT. 449 

alluding to the bearer, who has been in danger of strangula 
tion, and who withdraws adjusting his windpipe, " is the 
driver of the cab. He has nothing extra. It is by agree 
ment included in his fare. This person," the other bearer, 
" we engaged in the street outside for a pint of beer. Which 
is twopence. Judy, give the person twopence. I was not 
sure you had a workman of your own here, my dear friend, 
or we needn't have employed this person." 

Grandfather Small weed refers to Phil, with a glance of 
considerable terror, and a half-subdued " O Lord ! O dear 
me ! " Nor is his apprehension, on the surface of things, 
without some reason; for Phil, who has never beheld the 
apparition in the black velvet cap before, has stopped short 
with a gun in his hand, with much of the air of a dead 
shot, intent on picking Mr. Smallweed off as an ugly old bird 
of the crow species. 

"Judy, my child," says Grandfather Smallweed, "give the 
person his twopence. It's a great deal for what he has done." 

The person, who is one of those extraordinary specimens of 
human fungus that spring up spontaneously in the western 
streets of London, ready dressed in an old red jacket, with a 
" Mission " for holding horses and calling coaches, receives 
his twopence with anything but transport, tosses the money 
into the air, catches it over-handed, and retires. 

"My dear Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed, 
" would you be so kind as help to carry me to the fire ? I 
am accustomed to a fire, and I am an old man, and I soon 
chill. O dear me ! " 

His closing exclamation is jerked out of the venerable 
gentleman by the suddenness with which Mr. Squod, like a 
genie, catches him up, chair and all, and deposits him On the 
hearth-stone. 

"O Lord!" says Mr. Smallweed, panting. "O dear me! 
O my stars ! My dear friend, your workman is very strong 
and very prompt. O Lord, he is very prompt ! Judy, 
draw me back a little. I'm being scorched in the legs; 1 ' 

YOL. i. & G 



450 BLEAK HOUSE. 

which indeed is testified to the noses of all present by the 
smell of his worsted stockings. 

The gentle Judy, having backed her grandfather a little 
way from the fire, and having shaken him up as usual, and 
having released his overshadowed eye from its black velvet 
extinguisher, Mr. Smallweed again says, " O dear me ! 
Lord ! " and looking about, and meeting Mr. George's glance, 
again stretches out both hands. 

" My dear friend ! So happy in this meeting ! And this 
is your establishment ? It's a delightful place. It's a picture I 
You never find that anything goes off here, accidentally; do 
you, my dear friend? 1 " 1 adds Grandfather Smallweed, very ill 
at ease. 

" No, no. No fear of that." 

"And your workman. He O dear me! he never lets 
anything off without meaning it ; does he, my dear friend ? " 

" He has never hurt anybody but himself," says Mr. George, 
smiling. 

" But he might, you know. He seems to have hurt himself 
a good deal, and he might hurt somebody else," the old 
gentleman returns. " He mightn't mean it or he even might. 
Mr. George, will you order him to leave his infernal fire-arms 
alone, and go away ? " 

Obedient to a nod from the trooper, Phil retires, empty- 
handed, to the other end of the gallery. Mr. Smallweed, 
reassured, falls to rubbing his legs. 

"And you're doing well, Mr. George?" he says to the 
trooper, squarely standing faced about towards him with his 
broadsword in his hand. "You are prospering, please the 
Powers?" 

Mr. George answers with a cool nod, adding, "Go on. 
You have not come to say that, I know." 

" You are so sprightly, Mr. George," returns the venerable 
grand father. " You are such good company." 

" Ha ha ! Go on ! " says Mr. George. 

" My dear friend ! But that sword looks awful gleaming 



NOW FOR A PIPE! 451 

and sharp. It might cut somebody, by accident. It makes 
me shiver, Mr. George Curse him ! " says the excellent old 
gentleman apart to Judy, as the trooper takes a step or two 
away to lay it aside. " He owes me money, and might think 
of paying off old scores in this murdering place. I wish 
your brimstone grandmother was here, and he'd shave her 
head off." 

Mr. George, returning, folds his arms, and looking down 
at the old man, sliding every moment lower and lower in his 
chair, says quietly, " Now for it ! " 

" Ho ! " cries Mr. Smallweed, rubbing his hands with an 
artful chuckle. " Yes. Now for it. Now for what, my dear 
friend?" 

" For a pipe," says Mr. George ; who with great composure 
sets his chair in the chimney-corner, takes his pipe from the 
grate, fills it and lights it, and falls to smoking peacefully. 

This tends to the discomfiture of Mr. Smallweed, who finds 
it so difficult to resume his object, whatever it may be, that 
he becomes exasperated, and secretly claws the air with an 
impotent vindictiveness expressive of an intense desire to tear 
and rend the visage of Mr. George. As the excellent old 
gentleman's nails are long and leaden, and his hands lean 
and veinous, and his eyes green and watery ; and, over and 
above this, as he continues, while he claws, to slide down in 
his chair and to collapse into a shapeless bundle; he becomes 
such a ghastly spectacle, even in the accustomed eyes of 
Judy, that that young virgin pounces at him with something 
more than the ardour of affection, and so shakes him up, and 
pats and pokes him in divers parts of his body, but particu 
larly in that part which the science of self-defence would 
call his wind, that in his grievous distress he utters enforced 
sounds like a paviour's rammer. 

When Judy has by these means set him up again in his 
chair, with a white face and a frosty nose (but still clawing), 
she stretches out her weazen forefinger, and gives Mr. George 
one poke in the back. The trooper raising his head, she 






452 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



If you want to 
am one of the 
haven't the art 



makes another poke at her esteemed grandfather ; and, having 
thus brought them together, stares rigidly at the fire. 
c " Aye, aye ! Ho, ho ! U u u ugh ! " chatters Grand 
father Smallweed, swallowing his rage, ."My dear friend!" 
(still clawing). 

' " I tell you what," says Mr. George, 
converse with me, you must speak out. I 
Roughs, and I can't go about and about. I 
to do it. I am not clever enough. It don't suit me. When 
you go winding round and round me," says the trooper, 
putting his pipe between his lips again, "damme, if I don't 
feel as if I was being smothered ! " 

And he inflates his broad chest to its utmost extent, as if 
to assure himself that he is not smothered yet. 

"If you have come to give me a friendly call," continues 
Mr. George, "I am obliged to you; how are you? If you 
have come to see whether there's any property on the premises, 
look about you ; you are welcome. If you want to out with 
something, out with it!" 

The blooming Judy, without removing her ga/e from the 
fire, gives her grandfather one ghostly poke. 

" You see ! It's her opinion, too. And why the devil 
that young woman won't sit down like a Christian," says 
Mr. George, with his eyes musingly fixed on Judy, " / can't 
comprehend." 

"She keeps at my side to attend to me, sir," says Grand 
father Smallweed. "I am an old man, my dear Mr. George, 
and I need some attention. I can carry my years ; I am not 
a Brimstone poll-parrot ; " (snarling and looking unconsciously 
for the cushion ; ) " but I need attention, my dear friend." 

" Well ! " returns the trooper, wheeling his chair to face 
the old man. " Now then ? " 

"My friend in the city, Mr. George, has done a little 
business with a pupil of yours." 

"Has he?" says Mr. George. "I am sorry to hear it." 

" Yes, sir." Grandfather Smallweed rubs his legs. " He 



CONCERNING CAPTAIN HAWDON. 

is a fine young soldier now, Mr. George, by the name of 
Carstone. Friends came forward, and paid it all up, honour 
able." 

" Did they ? " returns Mr. George. " Do you think your 
friend in the city would like a piece of advice ? " 

" I think he would, my dear friend. From you." 

"I advise him, then, to do no more business in that 
quarter. There's no more to be got by it. The young gentle 
man, to my knowledge, is brought to a dead halt." 

" No, no, my dear friend. No, no, Mr. George. No, no, 
no, sir," remonstrates Grandfather Small weed, cunningly 
rubbing his spare legs. "Not quite a dead halt, I think. 
He has good friends, and he is good for his pay, and he is 
good for the selling price of his commission, and he is good 
for his chance in a lawsuit, and he is good for his chance in 
a wife, and oh, do you know, Mr. George, I think my friend 
would consider the young gentleman good for something 
yet ? " says Grandfather Small weed, turning up his velvet cap, 
and scratching his ear like a monkey. 

Mr. George, who has put aside his pipe and sits with an 
arm on his chair-back, beats a tattoo on the ground with his 
right foot, as if he were not particularly pleased with the 
turn the conversation has taken. 

"But to pass from one subject to another," resumes Mr. 
Smallweed. "To promote the conversation, as a joker might 
say. To pass, Mr. George, from the ensign to the captain." 

" What are you up to, now ? " asks Mr. George, pausing 
with a frown in stroking the recollection of his moustache. 
"What captain?" 

"Our captain. The captain we know of. Captain 
Hawdon." 

" O ! that's it, is it ? " says Mr. George, with a low whistle, 
as he sees both grandfather and grand-daughter looking hard 
at him; "you are there! Well? what about it? Come, I 
won't be smothered any more. Speak ! " 

"My dear friend," returns the old man, "I was applied 



454 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Judy, shake me up a little! I was applied to, yesterday, 
about the captain ; and my opinion still is, that the captain 
is not dead. 1 ' 

" Bosh ! " observes Mr. George. 

" What was your remark, my dear friend ? " inquires the 
old man with his hand to his ear. 

"Bosh!" 

" Ho ! " says Grandfather Smallweed. " Mr. George, of my 
opinion you can judge for yourself, according to the questions 
asked of me, and the reasons given for asking 'em. Now, 
what do you think the lawyer making the inquiries wants ? " 

"A job," says Mr. George. 

"Nothing of the kind!" 

"Can't be a lawyer, then," says Mr. George, folding his 
arms with an air of confirmed resolution. 

"My dear friend, he is a lawyer, and a famous one. He 
wants to see some fragment in Captain Hawdon's writing. 
He don't want to keep it. He only wants to see it, and 
compare it with a writing in his possession." 

"Well?" 

"Well, Mr. George. Happening to remember the adver 
tisement concerning Captain Hawdon, and any information 
that could be given respecting him, he looked it up and 
came to me just as you did, my dear friend. Will you 
shake hands ? So glad you came, that day ! I should have 
missed forming such a friendship, if you hadn't come ! " 

" Well, Mr. Smallweed ? " says Mr. George again, after 
going through the ceremony with some stiffness. 

"I had no such thing. I have nothing but his signature. 
Plague pestilence and famine, battle murder and sudden death 
upon him," says the old man, making a curse out of one of 
his few remembrances of a prayer, and squeezing up his velvet 
cap between his angry hands, "I have half a million of his 
signatures, I think ! But you," breathlessly recovering his 
mildness of speech, as Judy readjusts the cap on his skittle- 
ball of a head ; "you, my dear Mr. George, are likely to 



CAPTAIN HAWDON'S HANDWRITING. 455 

have some letter or paper that would suit the purpose. 
Anything would suit the purpose, written in the hand." 

" Some writing in that hand," says the trooper, pondering, 
"may be, I have." 

" My dearest friend ! " 

" May be, I have not." 

" Ho ! " says Grandfather Smallweed, crest-fallen. 

" But if I had bushels of it, I would not show as much as 
would make a cartridge, without knowing why." 

" Sir, I have told you why. My dear Mr. George, I have 
told you why." 

"Not enough," says the trooper, shaking his head. "I 
must know more, and approve it." 

"Then, will you come to the lawyer? My dear friend, 
will you come and see the gentleman?" urges Grandfather 
Smallweed, pulling out a lean old silver watch, with hands 
like the leg of a skeleton. "I told him it was probable I 
might call upon him, between ten and eleven this forenoon ; 
and it's now half after ten. Will you come and see the 
gentleman, Mr. George?" 

" Hum ! " says he, gravely. " I don't mind that. Though 
why this should concern you so much, I don't know." 

" Everything concerns me, that has a chance in it of bring 
ing anything to light about him. Didn't he take us all in ? 
Didn't he owe us immense sums, all round ? Concern me ? 
Who can anything about him concern, more than me ? Not, 
my dear friend," says Grandfather Smallweed, lowering his 
tone, "that I want you to betray anything. Far from it. 
Are you ready to come, my dear friend ? " 

" Ay ! I'll come in a moment. I promise nothing, you 
know." 

" No, my dear Mr. George ; no." 

"And you mean to say you're going to give me a lift to 
this place, wherever it is, without charging for it?" Mr. 
George inquires, getting his hat, and thick wash-leather 
gloves. 



456 fcLEAK HOUSE. 

This pleasantry so tickles Mr. Small weed, that he laughs, 
long and low, before the fire. But ever while he laughs, he 
glances over his paralytic shoulder at Mr. George, and eagerly 
watches him as he unlocks the padlock of a homely cupboard 
at the distant end of the gallery, looks here and there upon 
the higher shelves, and ultimately takes something out with a 
rustling of paper, folds it, and puts it in his breast. Then 
Judy pokes Mr. Smallweed once, and Mr. Smallweed pokes 
Judy once. 

" I am ready," says the trooper, coming back. " Phil, you 
can carry this old gentleman to his coach, and make nothing 
of him." 

" O dear me ! O Lord ! Stop a moment ! " says Mr. 
Smallweed. " He's so very prompt ! Are you sure you can 
do it carefully, my worthy man?"" 

Phil makes no reply ; but, seizing the chair and its load, 
sidles away, tightly hugged by the now speechless Mr. Small- 
weed, and bolts along the passage, as if he had an acceptable 
commission to carry the old gentleman to the nearest volcano. 
His shorter trust, however, terminating at the cab, he deposits 
him there ; and the fair Judy takes her place beside him, and 
the chair embellishes the roof, and Mr. George takes the 
vacant place upon the box. 

Mr. George is quite confounded by the spectacle he beholds 
from time to time as he peeps into the cab, through the 
window behind him ; where the grim Judy is always motion 
less, and the old gentleman with his cap over one eye is 
always sliding off the seat into the straw, and looking upward 
at him, out of his other eye, with a helpless expression of 
being jolted in the back. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

MORE OLD SOLDIERS THAN ONE. 

MR. GEORGE has not far to ride with folded arms upon the 
box, for their destination is Lincoln's Inn Fields. When the 
driver stops his horses, Mr. George alights, and looking in 
at the window, says : 

" What, Mr. Tulkinghorn's your man, is he ? " 
"Yes, my dear friend. Do you know him, Mr. George?" 
" Why, I have heard of him seen him too, I think. But 
I don't know him, and he don't know me." 

There ensues the carrying of Mr. Smallweed up-stairs; 
which is done to perfection with the trooper's help. He is 
borne into Mr. Tulkinghorn's great room, and deposited on 
the Turkey rug before the fire. Mr. Tulkinghorn is not 
within at the present moment, but will be back directly. 
The occupant of the pew in the hall, having said thus much, 
stirs the fire, and leaves the triumvirate to warm themselves. 
Mr. George is mightily curious in respect of the room. 
He looks up at the painted ceiling, looks round at the old 
law-books, contemplates the portraits of the great clients, 
reads aloud the names on the boxes. 

" ' Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet,' " Mr. George reads 
thoughtfully. " Ha ! < Manor of Chesney W r old.' Humph ! "" 
Mr. George stands looking at these boxes a long while as if 
they were pictures and comes back to the fire repeating, 
"Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, and Manor of Chesney 
Wold, hey? 11 






458 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



" Worth a mint of money, Mr. George ! " whispers Grand 
father Smallweed, rubbing his legs. " Powerfully rich ! " 

" Who do you mean ? This old gentleman, or the Baronet ? " 

"This gentleman, this gentleman." 

" So I have heard ; and knows a thing or two, Til hold a 
wager. Not bad quarters, either," says Mr. George, looking 
round again. " See the strong box, yonder ! "' 

This reply is cut short by Mr. Tulkinghorn^ arrival. 
There is no change in him, of course. Rustily drest, with 
his spectacles in his hand, and their very case worn thread 
bare. In manner, close and dry. In voice, husky and low. 
In face, watchful behind a blind ; habitually not uncensorious 
and contemptuous perhaps. The peerage may have warmer 
worshippers and faithfuller believers than Mr. Tulkinghorn, 
after all, if everything were known. 

" Good morning, Mr. Smallweed, good morning ! " he says 
as he comes in. " You have brought the Serjeant, I see. Sit 
down, serjeant. 11 

As Mr. Tulkinghorn takes off his gloves and puts them in 
his hat, he looks with half-closed eyes across the room to 
where the trooper stands, and says within himself perchance, 
" You'll do, my friend ! " 

" Sit down, serjeant, 11 he repeats, as he comes to his table, 
which is set on one side of the fire, and takes his easy-chair. 
" Cold and raw this morning, cold and raw ! " Mr. Tulking 
horn warms before the bars, alternately, the palms and 
knuckles of his hands, and looks (from behind that blind 
which is always down) at the trio sitting in a little semicircle 
before him. 

" Now, I can feel what I am about ! " (as perhaps he can 
in two senses) "Mr. Smallweed. 11 The old gentleman is 
newly shaken up by Judy, to bear his part in the conver 
sation. "You have brought our good friend the serjeanl 
I see. 11 

" Yes, sir, 11 returns Mr. Smallweed, very servile to 
lawyer's wealth and influence. 



THE LAWYER AND THE TROOPER. 459 

"And what does the serjeant say about this business ? " 

" Mr. George, 11 says Grandfather Small weed, with a 
tremulous wave of his shrivelled hand, "this is the gentle- 
man, sir." 

Mr. George salutes the gentleman ; but otherwise sits bolt 
upright and profoundly silent very forward in his chair, as 
if the full complement of regulation appendages for a field- 
day hung about him. 

Mr. Tulkinghorn proceeds : " Well, George ? I believe 
your name is George ? " 

" It is so, sir." 

" What do you say, George ? " 

" I ask your pardon, sir," returns the trooper, " but I 
should wish to know what you say ? " 

" Do you mean in point of reward ? " 

" I mean in point of everything, sir." 

This is so very trying to Mr. Smallweed's temper, that he 
suddenly breaks out with " You're a Brimstone beast ! " and 
as suddenly asks pardon of Mr. Tulkinghorn ; excusing him 
self for this slip of the tongue, by saying to Judy, "I was 
thinking of your grandmother, my dear." 

"I supposed, serjeant," Mr. Tulkinghorn resumes, as he 
leans on one side of his chair and crosses his legs, " that Mr. 
Small weed might have sufficiently explained the matter. It 
lies in the smallest compass, however. You served under 
Captain Hawdon at one time, and were his attendant in 
illness, and rendered him many little services, and were 
rather in his confidence, I am told. That is so, is it 
not?" 

"Yes, sir, that is so," says Mr. George, with military 
brevity. 

"Therefore you may happen to have in your possession 
something anything, no matter what accounts, instructions, 
orders, a letter, anything in Captain Hawdon's writing. I 
wish to compare his writing with some that I have. If you 
can give me the opportunity, you shall be rewarded for your 






460 BLEAK HOUSE. 

trouble. Three, four, five, guineas, you would consider hand 
some, I dare say." 

" Noble, my dear friend ! " cries Grandfather Smallweed, 
screwing up his eyes. 

"If not, say how much more, in your conscience as a 
soldier, you can demand. There is no need for you to part 
with the writing, against your inclination though I should 
prefer to have it." 

Mr. George sits squared in exactly the same attitude, looks 
at the painted ceiling, and says never a word. The irascible 
Mr. Smallweed scratches the air. 

" The question is," says Mr. Tulkinghorn in his methodical, 
subdued, uninterested way, "first, whether you have any of 
Captain Hawdon's writing?" 

"First, whether I have any of Captain Hawdon's writing, 
sir," repeats Mr. George. 

"Secondly, what will satisfy you for the trouble of 
producing it ? " 

"Secondly, what will satisfy me for the trouble of pro 
ducing it, sir," repeats Mr. George. 

"Thirdly, you can judge for yourself whether it is at all 
like that," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, suddenly handing him 
some sheets of written paper tied together. 

" Whether it is at all like that, sir. Just so," repeats 
Mr. George. 

All three repetitions Mr. George pronounces in a mechanical 
manner, looking straight at Mr. Tulkinghorn ; nor does he 
so much as glance at the affidavit in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, 
that has been given to him for his inspection (though he still 
holds it in his hand), but continues to look at the lawyer 
with an air of troubled meditation. 

"Well?" says Mr. Tulkinghorn. "What do you 
say ? " 

" Well, sir," replies Mr. George, rising erect and looking 
immense, " I would rather, if you'll excuse me, have nothing 
to do with this." 



THE TROOPER NOT RESPONSIVE. 461 

Mr. Tulkinghorn, outwardly quite undisturbed, demands 
" Why not ? " 

"Why, sir," returns the trooper. "Except on military 
compulsion, I am not a man of business. Among civilians I 
am what they call in Scotland a ne'er-do-weel. I have no 
head for papers, sir. I can stand any fire better than a fire 
of cross questions. I mentioned to Mr. Small weed, only an 
hour or so ago, that when I come into things of this kind I 
feel as if I was being smothered. And that is my sensation," 
says Mr. George, looking round upon the company, "at the 
present moment. 1 " 

With that, he takes three strides forward to replace the 
papers on the lawyer's table, and three strides backward to 
resume his former station : where he stands perfectly upright, 
now looking at the ground, and now at the painted ceiling, 
with his hands behind him as if to prevent himself from 
accepting any other document whatever. 

Under this provocation, Mr. Smallweed's favourite adjective 
of disparagement is so close to his tongue, that he begins 
the words " my dear friend " with the monosyllable " Brim ; " 
thus converting the possessive pronoun into Brimmy, and 
appearing to have an impediment in his speech. Once past 
this difficulty, however, he exhorts his dear friend in the 
tenderest manner not to be rash, but to do what so eminent 
a gentleman requires, and to do it with a good grace : 
confident that it must be unobjectionable as well as profitable. 
Mr. Tulkinghorn merely utters an occasional sentence, as 
"You are the best judge of your own interest, serjeant." 
"Take care you do no harm by this." "Please yourself, 
please yourself." " If you know what you mean, that's quite 
enough." These he utters with an appearance of perfect 
indifference, as he looks over the papers on his table, and 
prepares to write a letter. 

Mr. George looks distrustfully from the painted ceiling to 
the ground, from the ground to Mr. Smallweed, from Mr. 
Smallweed to Mr. Tulkinghorn, and from Mr. Tulkinghorn 



BLEAK HOUSE. 

to the painted ceiling again ; often in his perplexity changing 
the leg on which he rests. 

"I do assure you, sir," says Mr. George, "not to say it 
offensively, that between you and Mr. Smallweed here, I really 
am being smothered fifty times over. I really am, sir. I am 
not a match for you gentlemen. Will you allow me to ask, 
why you want to see the captain's hand, in the case that 
could find any specimen of it ? " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn quietly shakes his head. "No. If y< 
were a man of business, serjeant, you would not need to 
informed, that there are confidential reasons, very harmless h 
themselves, for many such wants, in the profession to whicl 
I belong. But if you are afraid of doing any injury 
Captain Hawdon, you may set your mind at rest about that.' 

"Ay ! he is dead, sir."" 

" Is he ? " Mr. Tulkinghorn quietly sits down to write. 

" Well, sir," says the trooper, looking into his hat ai 
another disconcerted pause ; " I am sorry not to have giv< 
you more satisfaction. If it would be any satisfaction to 
one, that I should be confirmed in my judgment that I woul( 
rather have nothing to do with this, by a friend of mine, wh< 
has a better head for business than I have, and who is an olc 
soldier, I am willing to consult with him. I I really am 
completely smothered myself at present," says Mr. Geoi 
passing his hand hopelessly across his brow, "that I don* 
know but what it might be a satisfaction to me." 

Mr. Smallweed, hearing that this authority is an old soldic 
so strongly inculcates the expediency of the trooper's taking 
counsel with him, and particularly informing him of its bein/ 
a question of five guineas or more, that Mr. George e 
to go and see him. Mr. Tulkinghorn says nothing eith( 
way. 

"Til consult my friend, then, by your leave, sir," says th 
trooper, " and Til take the liberty of looking in again wil 
the final answer in the course of the day. Mr. Smallwe 
if you wish to be carried down-stairs " 



HALF A WORD IN PRIVATE. 463 

"In a moment, my dear friend, in a moment. Will you 
first let me speak half a word with this gentleman, in 
private ? " 

"Certainly, sir. Don't hurry yourself on my account."" 
The trooper retires to a distant part of the room, and 
resumes his curious inspection of the boxes; strong and 
otherwise. 

"If I wasn't as weak as a Brimstone Baby, sir, 11 whispers 
Grandfather Smallweed, drawing the lawyer down to his level 
by the lappel of his coat, and flashing some half-quenched 
green fire out of his angry eyes, "I'd tear the writing away 
from him. He's got it buttoned in his breast. I saw him 
put it there. Judy saw him put it there. Speak up, you 
crabbed image for the sign of a walking-stick shop, and say 
you saw him put it there ! " 

This vehement conjuration the old gentleman accompanies 
with such a thrust at his grand-daughter, that it is too 
much for his strength, and he slips away out of his chair, 
drawing Mr. Tulkinghorn with him, until he is arrested by 
Judy, and well shaken. 

" Violence will not do for me, my friend," Mr. Tulkinghorn 
then remarks coolly. 

" No, no, I know, I know, sir. But it's chafing and galling 
it's it's worse than your smattering chattering Magpie of 
a grandmother," to the imperturbable Judy, who only looks 
at the fire, " to know he has got what's wanted, and won't give 
it up. He, not to give it up! He! A vagabond! But 
never mind, sir, never mind. At the most, he has only his 
own way for a little while. I have him periodically in a 
vice. I'll twist him, sir. I'll screw him, sir. If he won't 
do it with a good grace, I'll make him do it with a bad one, 
sir ! Now, my dear Mr. George," says Grandfather Smallweed, 
winking at the lawyer hideously, as he releases him, " I am 
ready for your kind assistance, my excellent friend ! " 

Mr. Tulkinghorn, with some shadowy sign of amusement 
manifesting itself through his self-possession, stands on the 



464 BLEAK HOUSE. 

hearth-rug with his back to the fire, watching the disappear 
ance of Mr. Small weed, and acknowledging the trooper's 
parting salute with one slight nod. 

It is more difficult to get rid of the old gentleman, Mr. 
George finds, than to bear a hand in carrying him down-stairs ; 
for, when he is replaced in his conveyance, he is so loquacious 
on the subject of the guineas, and retains such an affectional 
hold of his button having, in truth, a secret longing to ri] 
his coat open, and rob him that some degree of force is 
necessary on the trooper's part to effect a separation. It is 
accomplished at last, and he proceeds alone in quest of his 
adviser. 

By the cloisterly Temple, and by Whitefriars (there, not 
without a glance at Hanging-Sword Alley, which would seem 
to be something in his way), and by Blackfriars Bridge, and 
Blackfriars Road, Mr. George sedately marches to a street of 
little shops lying somewhere in that ganglion of roads froi 
Kent and Surrey, and of streets from the bridges of London, 
centring in the far-famed Elephant who has lost his castle 
formed of a thousand four-horse coaches, to a stronger iroi 
monster than he, ready to chop him into mince-meat any 
day he dares. To one of the little shops in this street, 
which is a musician's shop, having a few fiddles in the window, 
and some Pan's pipes and a tambourine, and a triangle, an< 
certain elongated scraps of music, Mr. George directs his 
massive tread. And halting at a few paces from it, as 
sees a soldierly-looking woman, with her outer skirts tucked 
up, come forth with a small wooden tub, and in that till 
commence a whisking and a splashing on the margin of th< 
pavement, Mr. George says to himself, "She's as 
washing greens. I never saw her, except upon a 
waggon, when she wasn't washing greens ! " 

The subject of this reflection is at all events so occupied 
in washing greens at present, that she remains unsuspicious 
of Mr. George's approach; until, lifting up herself and her 
tub together, when she has poured the water off into the 



MRS. BAGNET. 465 

gutter, she finds him standing near her. Her reception of 
him is not flattering. 

" George, I never see you but I wish you was a hundred 
mile away ! " 

The trooper, without remarking on this welcome, follows 
into the musical instrument shop, where the lady places her 
tub of greens upon the counter, and having shaken hands 
with him, rests her arms upon it. 

"I never," she says, "George, consider Matthew Bagnet 
safe a minute when yo Ve near him. You are that restless 

and that roving " 

" Yes ! I know I am, Mrs. Bagnet. I know I am." 
" You know you are ! " says Mrs. Bagnet. " What's the 
use of that ? Why are you ? " 

" The nature of the animal, I suppose," returns the trooper 
good-humouredly. 

" Ah ! " cries Mrs. Bagnet, something shrilly, " but what 
satisfaction will the nature of the animal be to me, when 
the animal shall have tempted my Mat away from the musical 
business to New Zealand or Australey ? " 

Mrs. Bagnet is not at all an ill-looking woman. Rather 
large-boned, a little coarse in the grain, and freckled by the 
sun and wind which have tanned her hair upon the forehead ; 
but healthy, wholesome, and bright-eyed. A strong, busy, 
active, honest-faced woman of from forty-five to fifty. Clean, 
hardy, and so economically dressed (though substantially), 
that the only article of ornament of which she stands possessed 
appears to be her wedding-ring ; around which her finger has 
grown to be so large since it was put on, that it will never 
come off again until it shall mingle with Mrs. Bagnet's dust. 
" Mrs. Bagnet," says the trooper, " I am on my parole with 
you. Mat will get no harm from me. You may trust me 
so far." 

"Well, I think I may. But the very looks of you are 
unsettling," Mrs. Bagnet rejoins. Ah, George, George ! If 
you had only settled down, and married Joe Pouch's widow 
VOL. i. 2 H 



466 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



when he died in North America, she'd have combed your hair 
for you." 

"It was a chance for me, certainly," returns the trooper, 
half-laughingly, half-seriously, " but I shall never settle down 
into a respectable man now. Joe Pouch's widow might have 
clone me good there was something in her and something 
of her but I couldn't make up my mind to it. If I had 
had the luck to meet with such a wife as Mat found ! " 

Mrs. Bagnet, who seems in a virtuous way to be under 
little reserve with a good sort of fellow, but to be anothei 
good sort of fellow herself for that matter, receives this com 
pliment by flicking Mr. George in the face with a head ol 
greens, and taking her tub into the little room behind the 
shop. 

"Why, Quebec, my poppet," says George, following, on 
invitation, into that department. "And little Malta, too! 
Come and kiss your Bluffy ! " 

These young ladies not supposed to have been actually 
christened by the names applied to them, though always so 
called in the family, from the places of their birth in barracks 
are respectively employed on three-legged stools : the 
younger (some five or six years old), in learning her letters 
out of a penny primer; the elder (eight or nine perhaps), in 
teaching her, and sewing with great assiduity. Both hail 
Mr. George with acclamations as an old friend, and after 
some kissing and romping plant their stools beside him. 

"And how's young Woolwich?" says Mr. George. 

" Ah ! There now ! " cries Mrs. Bagnet, turning about 
from her saucepans (for she is cooking dinner), with a bright 
flush on her face. "Would you believe it? Got an engage 
ment at the Theayter, with his father, to play the fife in a 
military piece." 

" Well done, my godson ! " cries Mr, George, slapping his 
thigh. 



" I believe you ! " says 
That's what Woolwich is. 



Mrs. Bagnet, 
A Briton ! " 



" He's a Briton, 



THE OLD GIRL. 467 

" And Mat blows away at his bassoon, and you're respectable 
civilians one and all," says Mr. George. " Family people. 
Children growing up. Mat's old mother in Scotland, and 
your old father somewhere else, corresponded with ; and 
helped a little ; and well, well ! To be sure, I don't know 
why I shouldn't be wished a hundred mile away, for I have 
not much to do with all this ! " 

Mr. George is becoming thoughtful ; sitting before the fire 
in the whitewashed room, which has a sanded floor, and a 
barrack smell, and contains nothing superfluous, and has not 
a visible speck of dirt or dust in it, from the faces of Quebec 
and Malta to the bright tin pots and pannikins upon the 
dresser shelves; Mr. George is becoming thoughtful, sitting 
here while Mrs. Bagnet is busy, when Mr. Bagnet and young 
Woolwich opportunely come home. Mr. Bagnet is an ex- 
artilleryman, tall and upright, with shaggy eyebrows, and 
whiskers like the fibres of a cocoa-nut, not a hair upon his 
head, and a torrid complexion. His voice, short, deep, and 
resonant, is not at all unlike the tones of the instrument to 
which he is devoted. Indeed there may be generally observed 
in him an unbending, unyielding, brass-bound air, as if he 
were himself the bassoon of the human orchestra. Young 
Woolwich is the type and model of a young drummer. 

Both father and son salute the trooper heartily. He 
saying, in due season, that he has come to advise with Mr. 
Bagnet, Mr. Bagnet hospitably declares that he will hear of 
no business until after dinner ; and that his friend shall not 
partake of his counsel, without first partaking of boiled pork 
and greens. The trooper yielding to this invitation, he and 
Mr. Bagnet, not to embarrass the domestic preparations, go 
forth to take a turn up and down the little street, which they 
promenade with measured tread and folded arms, as if it 
were a rampart. 

" George," says Mr. Bagnet. " You know me. It's my old 
girl that advises. She has the head. But I never own to it 
before her. Discipline must be maintained. Wait till the 






468 BLEAK HOUSE. 

greens is off her mind. Then, we'll consult. Whatever the 
old girl says, do do it ! " 

" I intend to, Mat,"" replies the other. " I would sooner 
take her opinion than that of a college.' 1 ' 1 

" College," returns Mr. Bagnet, in short sentences, bassoon- 
like. " What college could you leave in another quarter of 
the world with nothing but a grey cloak and an umbrella 
to make its way home to Europe ? The old girl would do it 
to-morrow. Did it once ! " 

"You are right," says Mr. George. 

" What college," pursues Bagnet, " could you set up in life 
with two penn'orth of white lime a penn'orth of fuller's 
earth a ha'porth of sand and the rest of the change out of 
sixpence, in money? That's what the old girl started on. 
In the present business." 

"I am rejoiced to hear it's thriving, Mat." 

" The old girl," says Mr. Bagnet, acquiescing, " saves. Has 
a stocking somewhere. With money in it. I never saw it. 
But I know she's got it. Wait till the greens is off her mind. 
Then she'll set you up." 

" She is a treasure ! " exclaims Mr. George. 

" She's more. But I never own to it before her. Discipline 
must be maintained. It was the old girl that brought out 
my musical abilities. I should have been in the artillery now, 
but for the old girl. Six years I hammered at the fiddle. 
Ten at the flute. The old girl said it wouldn't do ; intention 
good, but want of flexibility ; try the bassoon. The old girl 
borrowed a bassoon from the bandmaster of the llifle Regi 
ment. I practised in the trenches. Got on, got another, 
get a living by it ! " 

George remarks that she looks as fresh as a rose, and as 
sound as an apple. 

" The old girl," says Mr. Bagnet in reply, " is a thoroughly 
fine woman. Consequently, she is like a thoroughly fine day. 
Gets finer as she gets on. I never saw the old girl's equal. But 
I never own to it before her. Discipline must be maintained ! " 



THE TROOPER STATES HIS CASE. 469 

Proceeding to converse on indifferent matters, they walk 
up and down the little street, keeping step and time, until 
summoned by Quebec and Malta to do justice to the pork 
and greens; over which Mrs. Bagnet, like a military chaplain, 
says a short grace. In the distribution of these comestibles, 
as in every other household duty, Mrs. Bagnet develops an 
exact system ; sitting with every dish before her ; allotting to 
every portion of pork its own portion of pot-liquor, greens, 
potatoes, and even mustard ! and serving it out complete. 
Having likewise served out the beer from a can, and thus 
supplied the mess with all things necessary, Mrs. Bagnet 
proceeds to satisfy her own hunger, which is in a healthy 
state. The kit of the mess, if the table furniture may be so 
denominated, is chiefly composed of utensils of horn and tin, 
that have done duty in several parts of the world. Young 
Woolwich's knife, in particular, which is of the oyster kind, 
with the additional feature of a strong shutting-up movement 
which frequently balks the appetite of that young musician, 
is mentioned as having gone in various hands the complete 
round of foreign service. 

The dinner done, Mrs. Bagnet, assisted by the younger 
branches (who polish their own cups and platters, knives and 
forks), makes all the dinner garniture shine as brightly as 
before, and puts it all away ; first sweeping the hearth, to the 
end that Mr. Bagnet and the visitor may not be retarded in 
the smoking of their pipes. These household cares involve 
much pattening and counter-pattening in the back yard, and 
considerable use of a pail, which is finally so happy as to assist 
in the ablutions of Mrs. Bagnet herself. That old girl re 
appearing by-and-by, quite fresh, and sitting down to her 
needlework, then and only then the greens being only then 
to be considered as entirely off her mind Mr. Bagnet 
requests the trooper to state his case. 

This, Mr. George does with great discretion; appearing 
to address himself to Mr. Bagnet, but having an eye solely 
on the old girl all the time, as Bagnet has himself. She, 



470 BLEAK HOUSE. 

equally discreet, busies herself with her needlework. The 
case fully stated, Mr. Bagnet resorts to his standard artifice 
for the maintenance of discipline. 

"That's the whole of it, is it, George ?" says he. 

" That's the whole of it." 

"You act according to my opinion?" 

" I shall be guided," replies George, " entirely by it." 

" Old girl," says Mr. Bagnet, " give him my opinion. You 
know it. Tell him what it is." 

It is, that he cannot have too little to do with people who 
are too deep for him, and cannot be too careful of interference 
with matters he does not understand; that the plain rule, is 
to do nothing in the dark, to be a party to nothing under- 
handed or mysterious, and never to put his foot where he 
cannot see the ground. This, in effect, is Mr, Bagnet's 
opinion, as delivered through the old girl ; and it so relieves 
Mr. George's mind, by confirming his own opinion and 
banishing his doubts, that he composes himself to smoke 
another pipe on that exceptional occasion, and to have a talk 
over old times with the whole Bagnet family, according to 
their various ranges of experience. 

Through these means it comes to pass, that Mr. George 
does not again rise to his full height in that parlour until the 
time is drawing on when the bassoon and fife are expected 
by a British public at the theatre ; and as it takes time even 
then for Mr. George, in his domestic character of Bluffy, to 
take leave of Quebec and Malta, and insinuate a sponsorial 
shilling into the pocket of his godson, with felicitations on 
his success in life, it is dark when Mr. George again turns 
his face towards Lincoln's Inn Fields. 

"A family home," he ruminates, as he marches along, 
"however small it is, makes a man like me look lonely. But 
it's well I never made that evolution of matrimony. I 
shouldn't have been fit for it. I am such a vagabond still, 
even at my present time of life, that I couldn't hold to the 
gallery a month together, if it was a regular pursuit, or if I 



THE TROOPER IN THE SAME MIND. 471 

didn't camp there, gipsy fashion. Come ! I disgrace nobody 
and cumber nobody; that's something. I have not done 
that, for many a long year ! " 

So he whistles it off, and marches on. 

Arrived in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and mounting Mr. Tulking- 
horn's stair, he finds the outer door closed, and the chambers 
shut; but the trooper not knowing much about outer doors, 
and the staircase being dark besides, he is yet fumbling and 
groping about, hoping to discover a bell-handle or to open 
the door for himself, when Mr. Tulkinghorn comes up the 
stairs (quietly, of course), and angrily asks : 

" Who is that ? What are you doing there ? " 

"I ask your pardon, sir. It's George. The serjeant." 

"And couldn't George, the serjeant, see that my door was 
locked?" 

"Why, no, sir, I couldn't. At any rate, I didn't," says 
the trooper, rather nettled. 

" Have you changed your mind ? or are you in the same 
mind ? " Mr. Tulkinghorn demands. But he knows well 
enough at a glance. 

"In the same mind, sir." 

"I thought so. That's sufficient. You can go. So, you 
are the man," says Mr. Tulkinghorn, opening his door with 
the key, " in whose hiding-place Mr. Gridley was found ? " 

"Yes, I am the man," says the trooper, stopping two or 
three stairs down. "What then, sir?" 

" What then ? I don't like your associates. You should 
not have seen the inside of my door this morning, if I had 
thought of your being that man. Gridley ? A threatening, 
murderous, dangerous fellow." 

With these words, spoken in an unusually high tone for 
him, the lawyer goes into his rooms, and shuts the door with 
a thundering noise. 

Mr. George takes his dismissal in great dudgeon; the 
greater, because a clerk coming up the stairs has heard the 
last words of all, and evidently applies them to him. "A 



472 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



pretty character to bear," the trooper growls with a hasty 
oath, as he strides down-stairs. "A threatening, murderous, 
dangerous fellow ! " and looking up, he sees the clerk looking 
down at him, and marking him as he passes a lamp. This 
so intensifies his dudgeon, that for five minutes he is in an 
ill-humour. But he whistles that off, like the rest of it; 
and marches home to the Shooting Gallery. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

THE IRONMASTER. 

SIR LEICESTER DEDLOCK has got the better, for the time 
being, of the family gout; and is once more, in a literal no 
less than in a figurative point of view, upon his legs. He is 
at his place in Lincolnshire; but the waters are out again 
on the low-lying grounds, and the cold and damp steal 
into Chesney Wold, though well defended, and eke into Sir 
Leicester's bones. The blazing fires of faggot and coal 
Dedlock timber and antediluvian forest that blaze upon the 
broad wide hearths, and wink in the twilight on the frowning 
woods, sullen to see how trees are sacrificed, do not exclude 
the enemy. The hot-water pipes that trail themselves all 
over the house, the cushioned doors and windows, and the 
screens and curtains, fail to supply the fires 1 deficiencies, and 
to satisfy Sir Leicester's need. Hence the fashionable in 
telligence proclaims one morning to the listening earth, that 
Lady Dedlock is expected shortly to return to town for a 
few weeks. 

It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their 
poor relations. Indeed great men have often more than their 
fair share of poor relations; inasmuch as very red blood of 
the superior quality, like inferior blood unlawfully shed, will 
cry aloud, and will be heard. Sir Leicester's cousins, in the 
remotest degree, are so many Murders, in the respect that 
they "will out." Among whom there are cousins who are 



474 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



so poor, that one might almost dare to think it would have 
been the happier for them never to have been plated links 
upon the Dedlock chain of gold, but to have been made of 
common iron at first, and done base service. 

Service, however (with a few limited reservations; genteel 
but not profitable), they may not do, being of the Dedlock 
dignity. So they visit their richer cousins, and get into debt 
when they can, and live but shabbily when they can't, and 
find the women no husbands, and the men no wives and 
ride in borrowed carriages, and sit at feasts that are never ol 
their own making, and so go through high life. The rich 
family sum has been divided by so many figures, and they 
are the something over that nobody knows what to do with. 

Everybody on Sir Leicester Dedlock's side of the question, 
and of his way of thinking, would appear to be his cousin 
more or less. From my Lord Boodle, through the Duke of 
Foodie, down to Noodle, Sir Leicester, like a glorious spider, 
stretches his threads of relationship. But while he is stately 
in the cousinship of the Everybodys, he is a kind and 
generous man, according to his dignified way, in the cousin- 
ship of the Nobodys; and at the present time, in despite of 
the damp, he stays out the visit of several such cousins at 
Chesney Wold, with the constancy of a martyr. 

Of these, foremost in the front rank stands Volumnia Dedlock, 
a young lady (of sixty), who is doubly highly related ; having 
the honour to be a poor relation, by the mother's side, to 
another great family. Miss Volumnia, displaying in early 
life a pretty talent for cutting ornaments out of coloured 
paper, and also for singing to the guitar in the Spanish 
tongue, and propounding French conundrums in country 
houses, passed the twenty years of her existence betweei 
twenty and forty in a sufficiently agreeable manner. Lapsing 
then out of date, and being considered to bore mankind by 
her vocal performances in the Spanish language, she retired to 
Bath; where she lives slenderly on an annual present from 
Sir Leicester, and whence she makes occasional resurrections 



COMPANY AT CHESNEY WOLD. 475 

in the country houses of her cousins. She has an extensive 
acquaintance at Bath among appalling old gentlemen with 
thin legs and nankeen trousers, and is of high standing in 
that dreary city. But she is a little dreaded elsewhere, in 
consequence of an indiscreet profusion in the article of rouge, 
and persistency in an obsolete pearl necklace like a rosary of 
little birdVeggs. 

In any country in a wholesome state, Volumnia would be 
a clear case for the pension list. Efforts have been made to 
get her on it; and when William Buffy came in, it was fully 
expected that her name would be put down for a couple of 
hundred a-year. But William Buffy somehow discovered, 
contrary to all expectation, that these were not the times 
when it could be done ; and this was the first clear indication 
Sir Leicester Dedlock had conveyed to him, that the country 
was going to pieces. 

There is likewise the Honourable Bob Stables, who can 
make warm mashes with the skill of a veterinary surgeon, 
and is a better shot than most gamekeepers. He has been 
for some time particularly desirous to serve his country in a 
post of good emoluments, unaccompanied by any trouble or 
responsibility. In a well-regulated body politic, this natural 
desire on the part of a spirited young gentleman so highly 
connected, would be speedily recognised; but somehow 
William Buffy found when he came in, that these were not 
times in which he could manage that little matter, either; 
and this was the second indication Sir Leicester Dedlock had 
conveyed to him, that the country was going to pieces. 

The rest of the cousins are ladies and gentlemen of various 
ages and capacities ; the major part, amiable and sensible, and 
likely to have done well enough in life if they could have 
overcome their cousinship ; as it is, they are almost all a 
little worsted by it, and lounge in purposeless and listless 
paths, and seem to be quite as much at a loss how to dispose 
of themselves, as anybody else can be how to dispose of them. 

In this society, and where not, my Lady Dedlock reigns 



476 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



supreme. Beautiful, elegant, accomplished, and powerful in 
her little world (for the world of fashion does not stretch all 
the way from pole to pole), her influence in Sir Leicester's 
house, however haughty and indifferent her manner, is greatly 
to improve it and refine it. The cousins, even those older 
cousins who were paralysed when Sir Leicester married her, 
do her feudal homage ; and the Honourable Bob Stables daily 
repeats to some chosen person, between breakfast and lunch, 
his favourite original remark, that she is the best-groomed 
woman in the whole stud. 

Such the guests in the long drawing-room at Chesney Wold 
this dismal night, when the step on the Ghost's Walk (in 
audible here, however), might be the step of a deceased 
cousin shut out in the cold. It is near bed-time. Bedroom 
fires blaze brightly all over the house, raising ghosts of grim 
furniture on wall and ceiling. Bedroom candlesticks bristle 
on the distant table by the door, and cousins yawn on otto 
mans. Cousins at the piano, cousins at the soda-water tray, 
cousins rising from the card-table, cousins gathered round the 
fire. Standing on one side of his own peculiar fire (for there 
are two), Sir Leicester. On the opposite side of the broad 
hearth, my Lady at her table. Volumnia, as one of the more 
privileged cousins, in a luxurious chair between them. Sir 
Leicester glancing, with magnificent displeasure, at the rouge 
and the pearl necklace. 

" I occasionally meet on my staircase here, 1 " 1 drawls Volumnia, 
whose thoughts perhaps are already hopping up it to bed, 
after a long evening of very desultory talk, " one of the 
prettiest girls, I think, that I ever saw in my life." 

" A protegee of my Lady's," observes Sir Leicester. 

" I thought so. I felt sure that some uncommon eye must 
have picked that girl out. She really is a marvel. A dolly 
sort of beauty perhaps," says Miss Volumnia, reserving her 
own sort, " but in its way, perfect ; such bloom I never saw ! " 

Sir Leicester, with his magnificent glance of displeasure at 
the rouge, appears to say so too. 



MISS VOLUMNIA. 477 

"Indeed," remarks my Lady, languidly, "if there is any 
uncommon eye in the case, it is Mrs. RonncewelPs, and not 
mine. Rosa is her discovery." 

" Your maid, I suppose ? " 

"No. My anything; pet secretary messenger I don't 
know what." 

" You like to have her about you, as you would like to 
have a flower, or a bird, or a picture, or a poodle no, not a 
poodle, though or anything else that was equally pretty?" 
says Volumnia, sympathising. " Yes, how charming now ! 
and how well that delightful old soul Mrs. Rouncewell is 
looking. She must be an immense age, and yet she is as 
active and handsome ! She is the dearest friend I have, 
positively ! " 

Sir Leicester feels it to be right and fitting that the house 
keeper of Chesney Wold should be a remarkable person. 
Apart from that, he has a real regard for Mrs. Rouncewell, 
and likes to hear her praised. So he says, " You are right, 
Volumnia;" which Volumnia is extremely glad to hear. 

" She has no daughter of her own, has she ? " 

" Mrs. Rouncewell ? No, Volumnia. She has a son. Indeed, 
she had two." 

My Lady, whose chronic malady of boredom has been sadly 
aggravated by Volumnia this evening, glances wearily towards 
the candlesticks and heaves a noiseless sigh. 

" And it is a remarkable example of the confusion into 
which the present age has fallen ; of the obliteration of 
landmarks, the opening of floodgates, and the uprooting of 
distinctions," says Sir Leicester with stately gloom ; " that I 
have been informed, by Mr. Tulkinghom, that Mrs. Rounce- 
welPs son has been invited to go into Parliament." 

Miss Volumnia utters a little sharp scream. 
" Yes, indeed," repeats Sir Leicester. " Into Parliament." 
" I never heard of such a thing ! Good gracious, what i* 
the man ? " exclaimed Volumnia. 

u He is called, I believe an Ironmaster." Sir Leicester 



478 BLEAK HOUSE. 

says it slowly, and with gravity and doubt, as not being sure 
but that he is called a Lead-mistress ; or that the right word 
may be some other word expressive of some other relationship 
to some other metal. 

Volumnia utters another little scream. 

"He has declined the proposal, if my information from 
Mr. Tulkinghorn be correct, as I have no doubt it is, Mr. 
Tulkinghorn being always correct and exact ; still that docs 
not,"" says Sir Leicester, " that does not lessen the anomaly ; 
which is fraught with strange considerations startling con 
siderations, as it appears to me." 

Miss Volumnia rising with a look candlestick-wards, Sir 
Leicester politely performs the grand tour of the drawing- 
room, brings one, and lights it at my Lady's shaded lamp. 

" I must beg you, my Lady," he says while doing so, " to 
remain a few moments ; for this individual of whom I speak, 
arrived this evening shortly before dinner, and requested in 
a very becoming note ; " Sir Leicester, with his habitual regard 
to truth, dwells upon it ; "I am bound to say, in a very be 
coming and well-expressed note the favour of a short inter 
view with yourself and ww/self, on the subject of this young 
girl. As it appeared that he wished to depart to-night, I 
replied that we would see him before retiring." 

Miss Volumnia with a third little scream takes flight, wish 
ing her hosts O Lud ! well rid of the what is it ? Iron 
master ! 

The other cousins soon disperse, to the last cousin there. 
Sir Leicester rings the bell. "Make my compliments to 
Mr. Rouncewell, in the housekeepers apartments, and say I 
can receive him now." 

My Lady, who has heard all this with slight attention 
outwardly, looks towards Mr. Rouncewell as he comes in. He 
is a little over fifty perhaps, of a good figure, like his mother ; 
and has a clear voice, a broad forehead from which his dark 
hair has retired, and a shrewd, though open face. He is a 
responsible-looking gentleman dressed in black, portly enough, 



MR. ROUNCEVVELL. 479 

but strong and active. Has a perfectly natural and easy air, 
and is not in the least embarrassed by the great presence 
into which he comes. 

" Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, as I have already apolo 
gised for intruding on you, I cannot do better than be very 
brief. I thank you, Sir Leicester/' 

The head of the Dedlocks has motioned towards a sofa 
between himself and my Lady. Mr. Rouncewell quietly takes 
his seat there. 

"In these busy times, when so many great undertakings 
are in progress, people like myself have so many workmen in 
so many places, that we are always on the flight." 

Sir Leicester is content enough that the ironmaster should 
feel that there is no hurry there ; there, in that ancient house, 
rooted in that quiet park, where the ivy and the moss have 
had time to mature, and the gnarled and warted elms, and 
the umbrageous oaks, stand deep in the fern and leaves of a 
hundred years; and where the sun-dial on the terrace has 
dumbly recorded for centuries that Time, which was as much 
the property of every Dedlock while he lasted as the house 
and lands. Sir Leicester sits down in an easy-chair, opposing 
his repose and that of Chesney Wold to the restless flights 
of ironmasters. 

" Lady Dedlock has been so kind, 1 ' proceeds Mr. Rouncewell, 
with a respectful glance and a bow that way, "as to place 
near her a young beauty of the name of Rosa. Now, my 
son has fallen in love with Rosa; and has asked my consent 
to his proposing marriage to her, and to their becoming 
engaged if she will take him which I suppose she will. I 
have never seen Rosa until to-day, but I have some con 
fidence in my sons good sense even in love. I find her 
what he represents her, to the best of my judgment ; and my 
mother speaks of her with great commendation.'" 

"She in all respects deserves it," says my Lady. 

" I am happy, Lady Dedlock, that you say so ; and I need 
not comment on the value to me of your kind opinion of her." 



480 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"That," observes Sir Leicester, with unspeakable grandeur; 
for he thinks the ironmaster a little too glib ; " must be quite 
unnecessary." 

" Quite unnecessary, Sir Leicester. Now, my son is a very 
young man, and Rosa is a very young woman. As I made 
my way, so my son must make his ; and his being married 
at present is out of the question. But supposing I gave nr 
consent to his engaging himself to this pretty girl, if thi< 
pretty girl will engage herself to him, I think it a piece 
candour to say at once I am sure, Sir Leicester and Lad 1 
Dedlock, you will understand and excuse me I should mal 
it a condition that she did not remain at Chesney Wold. 
Therefore, before communicating further with my son, I take 
the liberty of saying that if her removal would be in an; 
way inconvenient or objectionable, I will hold the matte 
over with him for any reasonable time, and leave it precisel; 
where it is." 

Not remain at Chesney Wold ! Make it a condition ! All 
Sir Leicester's old misgivings relative to Wat Tyler, and the 
people in the iron districts who do nothing but turn out by 
torchlight, come in a shower upon his head : the fine grey 
hair of which, as well as of his whiskers, actually stirs witl 
indignation. 

"Am I to understand, sir," says Sir Leicester, "and is my 
Lady to understand ; " he brings her in thus specially, first, 
a point of gallantry, and next as a point of prudence, having 
great reliance on her sense; "am I to understand, Mr. 
Rouncewell, and is my Lady to understand, sir, that yoi 
consider this young woman too good for Chesney Wold, 01 
likely to be injured by remaining here?" 

"Certainly not, Sir Leicester." 

"I am glad to hear it." Sir Leicester very lofty 
indeed. 

1 " Pray, Mr. Rouncewell," says my Lady, warning Sir Leicester 
off with the slightest gesture of her pretty hand, as if he 
were a fly, "explain to me what you mean." 



THE IRONMASTER EXPLAINS. 481 

"Willingly, Lady Dedlock. There is nothing I could 
desire more." 

Addressing her composed face, whose intelligence, however, 
is too quick and active to be concealed by any studied 
impassiveness, however habitual, to the strong Saxon face of 
the visitor, a picture of resolution and perseverance, my Lady 
listens with attention, occasionally slightly bending her head. 

"I am the son of your housekeeper, Lady Dedlock, and 
passed my childhood about this house. My mother has lived 
here half a century, and will die here I have no doubt. She 
is one of those examples perhaps as good a one as there is 
of love, and attachment, and fidelity in such a station, 
which England may well be proud of; but of which no order 
can appropriate the whole pride or the whole merit, because 
such an instance bespeaks high worth on two sides; on the 
great side assuredly ; on the small one, no less assuredly." 

Sir Leicester snorts a little to hear the law laid down in 
this way ; but in his honour and his love of truth, he freely, 
though silently, admits the justice of the ironmaster's pro 
position. 

"Pardon me for saying what is so obvious, but I wouldn't 
have it hastily supposed," with the least turn of his eyes 
towards Sir Leicester, "that I am ashamed of my mother's 
position here, or wanting in all just respect for Chesney 
Wold and the family. I certainly may have desired I 
certainly have desired, Lady Dedlock that my mother should 
retire after so many years, and end her days with me. But, 
as I have found that to sever this strong bond would be to 
break her heart, I have long abandoned that idea." 

Sir Leicester very magnificent again, at the notion of Mrs. 
Rouncewell being spirited off from her natural home, to end 
her days with an ironmaster. 

" I have been," proceeds the visitor, in a modest clear way, 
"an apprentice, and a workman. I have lived on workman's 
wages, years and years, and beyond a certain point have had 
to educate myself. My wife was a foreman's daughter, and 

VOL. i. 2 i 



482 BLEAK HOUSE. 

plainly brought up. We have three daughters, besides this 
son of whom I have spoken ; and being fortunately able to 
give them greater advantages than we have had ourselves, we 
have educated them well ; very well. It has been one of 
our great cares and pleasures to make them worthy of any 
station." 

A little boastfulness in his fatherly tone here, as if he added 
in his heart, " even of the Chesney Wold station. 11 Not a little 
more magnificence, therefore, on the part of Sir Leicester. 

" All this is so frequent, Lady Dedlock, where I live, 
and among the class to which I belong, that what would 
be generally called unequal marriages are not of such rare 
occurrence with us as elsewhere. A son will sometimes make 
it known to his father that he has fallen in love, say with a 
young woman in the factory. The father, who once worked 
in a factory himself, will be a little disappointed at first, very 
possibly. It may be that he had other views for his son. 
However, the chances are, that having ascertained the young 
woman to be of unblemished character, he will say to his son, 
'I must be quite sure you are in earnest here. This is a 
serious matter for both of you. Therefore I shall have this 
girl educated for two years ' or, it may be ' I shall place 
this girl at the same school with your sisters for such a time, 
during which you will give me your word and honour to see 
her only so often. If, at the expiration of that time, when she 
has so far profited by her advantages as that you may be 
upon a fair equality, you are both in the same mind, I will 
do my part to make you happy .^ I know of several cases 
such as I describe, my Lady, and I think they indicate to me 
my own course now. 11 

Sir Leicester's magnificence explodes. Calmly, but terribly. 

"Mr. Rouncewell, 11 says Sir Leicester, with his right hand 
in the breast of his blue coat the attitude of state in which 
he is painted in the gallery : " do you draw a parallel between 

Chesney AVold, and a " here he resists a disposition to 

choke "a factory? 11 



SIR LEICESTER DEBLOCK ASTONISHED. 483 

"I need not reply, Sir Leicester, that the two places are 
very different; but, for the purposes of this case, I think a 
parallel may be justly drawn between them." 

Sir Leicester directs his majestic glance down one side of 
the long drawing-room, and up the other, before he can 
believe that he is awake. 

"Are yon aware, sir, that this young woman whom my 
Lady my Lady has placed near her person, was brought 
up at the village school outside the gates?" 

" Sir Leicester, I am quite aware of it. A very good school 
it is, and handsomely supported by this family." 

"Then, Mr. Rouncewell," returns Sir Leicester, the "appli 
cation of what you have said is, to me, incomprehensible." 

" Will it be more comprehensible, Sir Leicester, if I say," 
the ironmaster is reddening a little, " that I do not regard 
the village school as teaching everything desirable to be known 
by my son^s wife ? " 

From the village school of Chesney Wold, intact as it is 
this minute, to the whole framework of society : from the 
whole framework of society, to the aforesaid framework re 
ceiving tremendous cracks in consequence of people (iron 
masters, lead-mistresses, and what not) not minding their 
catechism, and getting out of the station unto which they are 
called necessarily and for ever, according to Sir Leicester's 
rapid logic, the first station in which they happen to find 
themselves; and from that, to their educating other people 
out of their stations, and so obliterating the landmarks, and 
opening the floodgates, and all the rest of it ; this is the swift 
progress of the Dedlock mind. 

"My Lady, I beg your pardon. Permit me, for one 
moment ! " She has given a faint indication of intending to 
speak. " Mr. Rouncewell, our views of duty, and our views 
of station, and our views of education, and our views of in 
short, all our views are so diametrically opposed, that to 
prolong this discussion must be repellant to your feelings, 
and repellant to my own. This young woman is honoured 



484 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



with my Lady's notice and favour. If she wishes to with 
draw herself from that notice and favour, or if she chooses 
to place herself under the influence of any one who may in 
his peculiar opinions you will allow me to say, in his 
peculiar opinions, though I readily admit that he is not ac 
countable for them to me who may, in his peculiar opinions, 
withdraw her from that notice and favour, she is at any time 
at liberty to do so. We are obliged to you for the plainness 
with which you have spoken. It will have no effect of itself, 
one way or other, on the young woman's position hei 
Beyond this, we can make no terms; and here we beg il 
you will be so good to leave the subject." 

The visitor pauses a moment to give my Lady an oppor 
tunity, but she says nothing. He then rises and replies : 

"Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock, allow me to thank you 
for your attention, and only to observe that I shall very 
seriously recommend my son to conquer his present inclina 
tions. Good night ! " 

"Mr. Rouncewell," says Sir Leicester, with all the nature 
of a gentleman shining in him, " it is late, and the roads are 
dark. I hope your time is not so precious but that you will 
allow my Lady and myself to offer you the hospitality of 
Chesney Wold, for to-night at least." 

" I hope so," adds my Lady. 

" I am much obliged to you, but I have to travel all night, 
in order to reach a distant part of the country, punctually at 
an appointed time in the morning." 

Therewith the ironmaster takes his departure ; Sir Leicester 
ringing the bell, and my Lady rising as he leaves the room. 

When my Lady goes to her boudoir, she sits down 
thoughtfully by the fire; and, inattentive to the Ghost's 
Walk, looks at Rosa, writing in an inner room. Presently 
my Lady calls her. 

"Come to me, child. Tell me the truth. Are you in 
love?" 

"O! My Lady! 



MY LADY FALLS INTO A REVERIE. 485 

My Lady, looking at the downcast and blushing face, says 
smiling : 

" Who is it ? Is it Mrs. Rouncewell's grandson ? " 

" Yes, if you please, my Lady. But I don't know that I 
am in love with him yet.*" 

" Yet, you silly little thing ! Do you know that he loves 
you, yet?" 

" I think he likes me a little, my Lady." And Rosa burst 
into tears. 

Is this Lady Dedlock standing beside the village beauty, 
smoothing her dark hair with that motherly touch, and 
watching her with eyes so full of musing interest? Aye, 
indeed it is ! 

"Listen to me, child. You are young and true, and I 
believe you are attached to me." 

"Indeed I am, my Lady. Indeed there is nothing in the 
world I wouldn't do, to show how much." 

"And I don't think you would wish to leave me just yet, 
Rosa, even for a lover ? " 

" No, my Lady ! O no ! " Rosa looks up for the first time, 
quite frightened at the thought. 

" Confide in me, my child. Don't fear me. I wish you to 
be happy, and will make you so if I can make anybody 
happy on this earth." 

Rosa, with fresh tears, kneels at her feet and kisses her 
hand. My Lady takes the hand with which she has caught 
it, and, standing with her eyes fixed on the fire, puts it about 
and about between her own two hands, and gradually lets it 
fall. Seeing her so absorbed, Rosa softly withdraws ; but 
still my Lady's eyes are on the fire. 

In search of what ? Of any hand that is no more, of any 
hand that never was, of any touch that might have magically 
changed her life? Or does she listen to the Ghost's Walk, 
and think what step does it most resemble ? A man's ? A 
woman's ? The pattering of a little child's feet, ever coming 
on on on ? Some melancholy influence is upon her ; or 



486 BLEAK HOUSE. 

why should so proud a lady close the doors, and sit alone 
upon the hearth so desolate? 

Volumnia is away next day, and all the cousins are scattered 
before dinner. Not a cousin of the batch but is amazed to 
hear from Sir Leicester, at breakfast-time, of the obliteration 
of landmarks, and opening of floodgates, and cracking of the 
framework of society, manifested through Mrs. Rouncewell's 
son. Not a cousin of the batch but is really indignant, and 
connects it with the feebleness of William Buffy when in office, 
#nd really does feel deprived of a stake in the country or 
the pension list or something by fraud and wrong. As to 
Volumnia, she is handed down the great staircase by Sir 
Leicester, as eloquent upon the theme, as if there were a 
general rising in the North of England to obtain her rouge- 
pot and pearl necklace. And thus, with a clatter of maids 
and valets for it is one appurtenance of their cousinship, 
that, however difficult they may find it to keep themselves, 
they must keep maids and valets the cousins disperse to the 
four winds of heaven ; and the one wintry wind that blows 
to-day shakes a shower from the trees near the deserted 
house, as if all the cousins had been changed into leaves. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

THE YOUNG MAN. 

CHESNEY WOLD is shut up, carpets are rolled into great scrolls 
in corners of comfortless rooms, bright damask does penance 
in brown holland, carving and gilding puts on mortification, 
and the Dedlock ancestors retire from the light of day again. 
Around and around the house the leaves fall thick but never 
fast, for they come circling down with a dead lightness that 
is sombre and slow. Let the gardener sweep and sweep the 
turf as he will, and press the leaves into full barrows, and 
wheel them off, still they lie ankle-deep. Howls the shrill 
wind round Chesney Wold ; the sharp rain beats, the windows 
rattle, and the chimneys growl. Mists hide in the avenues, 
veil the points of view, and move in funeral-wise across the 
rising grounds. On all the house there is a cold, blank smell, 
like the smell of a little church, though something dryer : 
suggesting that the dead and buried Dedlocks walk there, in 
the long nights, and leave the flavour of their graves behind 
them. 

But the house in town, which is rarely in the same mind 
as Chesney Wold at the same time; seldom rejoicing when 
it rejoices, or mourning when it mourns, excepting when a 
Dedlock dies ; the house in town shines out awakened. As 
warm and bright as so much state may be, as delicately 
redolent of pleasant scents that bear no trace of winter as 
hothouse flowers can make it; soft and hushed, so that the 
ticking of the clocks and the crisp burning of the fires alone 






488 BLEAK HOUSE. 

disturb the stillness in the rooms; it seems to wrap those 
chilled bones of Sir Leicester's in rainbow-coloured wool. 
And Sir Leicester is glad to repose in dignified contentment 
before the great fire in the library, condescendingly perusing 
the backs of his books, or honouring the fine arts with a 
glance of approbation. For he has his pictures, ancient and 
modern. Some of the Fancy Ball School in which Art 
occasionally condescends to become a master, which would be 
best catalogued like the miscellaneous articles in a sale. As, 
"Three high-backed chairs, a table and cover, long-necked 
bottle (containing wine), one flask, one Spanish female's 
costume, three-quarter face portrait of Miss Jogg the model, 
and a suit of armour containing Don Quixote. " Or, " One 
stone terrace (cracked), one gondola in distance, one Venetian 
senator's dress complete, richly embroidered white satin 
costume with profile portrait of Miss Jogg the model, one 
scimetar superbly mounted in gold with jewelled handle, 
elaborate Moorish dress (very rare), and Othello." 

Mr. Tulkinghorn comes and goes pretty often ; there being 
estate business to do, leases to be renewed, and so on. He 
sees my Lady pretty often, too; and he and she are as com 
posed, and as indifferent, and take as little heed of one 
another, as ever. Yet it may be that my Lady fears this 
Mr. Tulkinghorn, and that he knows it. It may be that he 
pursues her doggedly and steadily, with no touch of compunc 
tion, remorse, or pity. It may be that her beauty, and all 
the state and brilliancy surrounding her, only gives him the 
greater zest for what he is set upon, and makes him the more 
inflexible in it. Whether he be cold and cruel, whether 
immovable in what he has made his duty, whether absorbed 

love of power, whether determined to have nothing hidden 
from him in ground where he has burrowed among secrets 
all his life, whether he in his heart despises the splendour of 
which he is a distant beam, whether he is always treasuring 
up slights and offences in the affability of his gorgeous clients 
whether he be any of this, or all of this, it may be that 



THE YOUNG MAN OF THE NAME OF GUPPY. 489 

my Lady had better have five thousand pairs of fashionable 
eyes upon her, in distrustful vigilance, than the two eyes of 
this rusty lawyer, with his wisp of neckcloth and his dull 
black breeches tied with ribbons at the knees. 

Sir Leicester sits in my Lady's room that room in which 
Mr. Tulkinghorn read the affidavit in Jarndyce arid Jarndyce 
particularly complacent. My Lady as on that day sits 
before the fire with her screen in her hand. Sir Leicester is 
particularly complacent, because he has found in his news 
paper some congenial remarks bearing directly on the flood 
gates and the framework of society. They apply so happily 
to the late case, that Sir Leicester has come from the library 
to my Lady's room expressly to read them aloud. "The 
man who wrote this article," he observes by way of preface, 
nodding at the fire as if he were nodding down at the man 
from a Mount, "has a well-balanced mind." 

The man's mind is not so well balanced but that he bores 
my Lady, who, after a languid effort to listen, or rather a 
languid resignation of herself to a show of listening, becomes 
distraught, and falls into a contemplation of the fire as if it 
were her fire at Chesney Wold, and she had never left it. 
Sir Leicester, quite unconscious, reads on through his double 
eye-glass, occasionally stopping to remove his glass and express 
approval, as " Very true indeed," " Very properly put," " I 
have frequently made the same remark myself;" invariably 
losing his place after each observation, and going up and 
down the column to find it again. 

Sir Leicester is reading, with infinite gravity and state, 
when the door opens, and the Mercury in powder makes this 
strange announcement: 

" The young man, my Lady, of the name of Guppy." 
Sir Leicester pauses, stares, repeats in a killing voice : 
" The young man of the name of Guppy ? " 
Looking round, he beholds the young man of the name of 
Guppy, much discomfited, and not presenting a very impressive 
letter of introduction in his manner and appearance, 



490 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"Pray," says Sir Leicester to Mercury, " what do you mean 
by announcing with this abruptness a young man of the name 
of Gappy?" 

"I beg your pardon, Sir Leicester, but my Lady said she 
would see the young man whenever he called. I was not 
aware that you were here, Sir Leicester." 

With this apology, Mercury directs a scornful and indig 
nant look at the young man of the name of Guppy, which 
plainly says, " What do you come calling here for, and 
getting me into a row?" 

"It's quite right. I gave him those directions/' says my 
Lady. "Let the young man wait."" 

"By no means, my Lady. Since he has your orders to 
come, I will not interrupt you." Sir Leicester in his gallantry 
retires, rather declining to accept a bow from the young man 
as he goes out, and majestically supposing him to be some 
shoemaker of intrusive appearance. 

Lady Dedlock looks imperiously at her visitor, when the 
servant has left the room ; casting her eyes over him from 
head to foot. She suffers him to stand by the door, and asks 
him what he wants ? 

" That your ladyship would have the kindness to oblige me 
with a little conversation," returns Mr. Guppy, embarrassed. 

"You are, of course, the person who has written me so 
many letters?" 

"Several, your ladyship. Several, before your ladyship 
condescended to favour me with an answer." 

" And could you not take the same means of rendering a 
conversation unnecessary ? Can you not still ? " 

Mr. Guppy screws his mouth into a silent " No ! " and 
shakes his head. 

"You have been strangely importunate. If it should 
appear, after all, that what you have to say does not concern 
me and I don't know how it can, and don't expect that it 
will you will allow me to cut you short with but little cere* 
mony. Say what you have to say, if you please." 



THE YOUNG MAN'S BUSINESS. 491 

My Lady, with a careless toss of her screen, turns herself 
towards the fire again, sitting almost with her back to the 
young man of the name of Guppy. 

"With your ladyship's permission, then," says the young 
man, " I will now enter on my business. Hem ! I am, as I 
told your ladyship in my first letter, in the law. Being in 
the law, I have learnt the habit of not committing myself in 
writing, and therefore I did not mention to your ladyship 
the name of the firm with which I am connected, and in 
which my standing and I may add income is tolerably 
good. I may now state to your ladyship, in confidence, that 
the name of that firm is Kenge and Carboy, of Lincoln's 
Inn ; which may not be altogether unknown to your ladyship 
in connexion with the case in Chancery of Jarndyce and 
Jarndyce." 

My Lady's figure begins to be expressive of some attention. 
She has ceased to toss the screen, and holds it as if she were 
listening. 

"Now, I may say to your ladyship at once," says Mr. 
Guppy, a little emboldened, "it is no matter arising out of 
Jarndyce and Jarndyce that made me so desirous to speak to 
your ladyship, which conduct I have no doubt did appear, 
and does appear, obtrusive in fact, almost blackguardly." 
After waiting for a moment to receive some assurance to the 
contrary, and not receiving any, Mr. Guppy proceeds. " If 
it had been Jarndyce and Jarndyce, I should have gone at 
once to your ladyship's solicitor, Mr. Tulkinghorn of the 
Fields. I have the pleasure of being acquainted with Mr. 
Tulkinghorn at least we move when we meet one another 
and if it had been any business of that sort, I should have 
gone to him." 

My Lady turns a little round, and says, " You had better 
sit down." 

"Thank your ladyship." Mr. Guppy does so. "Now, 
your ladyship ; " Mr. Guppy refers to a little slip of paper 
on which he has made small notes of his line of argument, 



492 BLEAK HOUSE. 

and which seems to involve him in the densest obscurity 
whenever he looks at it ; " I O yes ! I place myself entirely 
in your ladyship's hands. If your ladyship was to make any 
complaint to Kenge and Carboy, or to Mr. Tulkinghorn, of 
the present visit, I should be placed in a very disagreeable 
situation. That, I openlv admit. Consequently, I rely upon 
your ladyship's honour. " 

My Lady, with a disdainful gesture of the hand that 
holds the screen, assures him of his being worth no complaint 
from her. 

" Thank your ladyship," says Mr. Guppy, "quite satis 
factory. Now I dash it ! The fact is, that I put down a 
head or two here of the order of the points I thought of 
touching upon, and they're written short, and I can't quite 
make out what they mean. If your ladyship will excuse me 
taking it to the window half a moment, I " 

Mr. Guppy going to the window, tumbles into a pair of 
love-birds, to whom he says in his confusion, "I beg your 
pardon, I am sure." This does not tend to the greater 
legibility of his notes. He murmurs, growing warm and red> 
and holding the slip of paper now close to his eyes, now a 
long way off, " C. S. What's C. S. for? O! <E. S. P O, I 
know ! Yes, to be sure ! " And comes back enlightened. 

"I am not aware," says Mr. Guppy, standing midway 
between my Lady and his chair, " whether your ladyship ever 
happened to hear of, or to see, a young lady of the name of 
Miss Esther Summerson." 

My Lady's eyes look at him full. " I saw a young lady of 
that name not long ago. This past autumn." 

"Now, did it strike your ladyship that she was like any 
body ? " asks Mr. Guppy, crossing his arms, holding his head 
on one side, and scratching the corner of his mouth with his 
memoranda. 

My Lady removes her eyes from him no more. 

" No." 

"Not like your ladyship's family?" 



ON DANGEROUS GROUND. 493 

"No." 

"I think your ladyship," says Mr. Guppy, "can hardly 
remember Miss Summerson's face ? " 

" I remember the young lady very well. What has this to 
do with me ? " 

" Your ladyship, I do assure you, that having Miss 
Summerson's image imprinted on my art which I mention in 
confidence I found, when I had the honour of going over 
your ladyship's mansion of Chesney Wold, while on a short 
out in the county of Lincolnshire with a friend, such a 
resemblance between Miss Esther Summerson and your lady 
ship's own portrait, that it completely knocked me over; so 
much so, that I didn't at the moment even know what it was 
that knocked me over. And now I have the honour of 
beholding your ladyship near, (I have often, since that, taken 
the liberty of looking at your ladyship in your carriage in 
the park, when I dare say you was not aware of me, but I 
never saw your ladyship so near,) it's really more surprising 
than I thought it." 

Young man of the name of Guppy ! There have been 
times, when ladies lived in strongholds, and had unscrupulous 
attendants within call, when that poor life of yours would 
not have been worth a minute's purchase, with those beautiful 
eyes looking at you as they look at this moment. 

My Lady, slowly using her little hand-screen as a fan, asks 
him again, what he supposes that his taste for likenesses has 
to do with her? 

"Your ladyship," replies Mr. Guppy, again referring to 
his paper, " I am coming to that. Dash these notes ! O ! 
'Mrs. Chadband.' Yes." Mr. Guppy draws his chair a 
little forward, and seats himself again. My Lady reclines 
in her chair composedly, though with a trifle less of graceful 
ease than usual, perhaps; and never falters in her steady 
gaze . "A stop a minute, though!" Mr. Guppy refers 
again. " E. S. twice? O yes! yes, I see my way now, 
right on." 



494 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Rolling up the slip of paper as an instrument to point his 
speech with, Mr. Guppy proceeds. 

"Your ladyship, there is a mystery about Miss Esther 
Summerson's birth and bringing up. I am informed of that 
fact, because which I mention in confidence I know it in 
the way of my profession at Kenge and Carboy's. Now, as I 
have already mentioned to your ladyship, Miss Summerson's 
image is imprinted on my art. If I could clear this mystery 
for her, or prove her to be well related, or find that having 
1 the honour to be a remote branch of your ladyship's family 
-Ashe had a right to be made a party in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, 
why, I might make a sort of a claim upon Miss Summerson to 
look with an eye of more decided favour on my proposals 
than she has exactly done as yet. In fact, as yet she hasn't 
favoured them at all." 

A kind of angry smile just dawns upon my Lady's face. 

"Now, it's a very singular circumstance, your ladyship," 
says Mr. Guppy, "though one of those circumstances that 
do fall in the way of us professional men which I may call 
myself, for though not admitted, yet I have had a present 
of my articles made to me by Kenge and Carboy, on my 
mother's advancing from the principal of her little income 
the money for the stamp, which comes heavy that I have 
encountered the person who lived as servant with the lady 
who brought Miss Summerson up, before Mr. Jarndyce took 
charge of her. That lady was a Miss Barbary, your lady 
ship." 

Is the dead colour on my Lady's face, reflected from the 
screen which has a green silk ground, and which she holds in 
her raised hand as if she had forgotten it ; or is it a dreadful 
paleness that has fallen on her ? 

"Did your ladyship," says Mr. Guppy, "ever happen to 
hear of Miss Barbary ? " 

"I don't know. I think so. Yes." 

"Was Miss Barbary at all connected with your ladyship's 
family?" 



A LITTLE GIRL'S REAL NAME. 495 

My lady's lips move, but they utter nothing. She shakes 
her head. 

" Not connected ? " says Mr. Guppy. " ! Not to your 
ladyship's knowledge, perhaps ? Ah ! But might be ? Yes." 
After each of these interrogatories, she has inclined her head. 
" Very good ! Now, this Miss Barbary was extremely close 
seems to have been extraordinarily close for a female, 
females being generally (in common life at least) rather given 
to conversation and my witness never had an idea whether 
she possessed a single relative. On one occasion, and only 
one, she seems to have been confidential to my witness, on a 
single point; and she then told her that the little girl's real 
name was not Esther Summerson, but Esther Hawdon." 

"My God!" 

Mr. Guppy stares. Lady Dedlock sits before him, looking 
him through, with the same dark shade upon her face, in the 
same attitude even to the holding of the screen, with her 
lips a little apart, her brow a little contracted, but, for the 
moment, dead. He sees her consciousness return, sees a tremor 
pass across her frame like a ripple over water, sees her lips 
shake, sees her compose them by a great effort, sees her force 
herself back to the knowledge of his presence, and of what he 
has said. All this, so quickly, that her exclamation and her 
dead condition seem to have passed away like the features of 
those long-preserved dead bodies sometimes opened up in 
tombs, which, struck by the air like lightning, vanish in a 
breath. 

"Your ladyship is acquainted with the name of Hawdon?" 

" I have heard it before." 

" Name of any collateral, or remote, branch of your lady 
ship's family ? " 

"No." 

" Now, your ladyship," says Mr. Guppy, " I come to the 
last point of the case, so far as I have got it up. It's going 
on, and I shall gather it up closer and closer as it goes on. 
Your ladyship must know if your ladyship don't happen, by 



496 BLEAK HOUSE. 

any chance, to know already that there was found dead at 
the house of a person named Krook, near Chancery Lane, 
some time ago, a law-writer in great distress. Upon which 
law-writer there was an inquest; and which law-writer was 
an anonymous character, his name being unknown. But, your 
ladyship, I have discovered very lately, that that law-writer's 
name was Hawdon." 

" And what is that to me ? " 

" Aye, your ladyship, that's the question ! Now, your lady 
ship, a queer thing happened after that man's death. A lady 
started up ; a disguised lady, your ladyship, who went to look 
at the scene of action, and went to look at his grave. She 
hired a crossing-sweeping boy to show it her. If your lady 
ship would wish to have the boy produced in corroboration 
of this statement, I can lay my hand upon him at any time." 

The wretched boy is nothing to my Lady, and she does not 
wish to have him produced. 

" Oh, I assure your ladyship it's a very queer start indeed," 
says Mr. Guppy. " If you was to hear him tell about the 
rings that sparkled on her fingers when she took her glove 
off, you'd think it quite romantic." 

There are diamonds glittering on the hand that holds the 
screen. My Lady trifles with the screen, and makes them 
glitter more ; again with that expression which in other times 
might have been so dangerous to the young man of the name 
of Guppy. 

"It was supposed, your ladyship, that he left no rag or 
scrap behind him by which he could be possibly identified. 
But he did. He left a bundle of letters." 

The screen still goes, as before. All this time, her eyes 
never once release him. 

"They were taken and secreted. And to-morrow night, 
your ladyship, they will come into my possession." 

" Still I ask you, what is this to me ? " 

"Your ladyship, I conclude with that." Mr. Guppy rises. 
" If you think there's enough, in this chain of circumstances 



A MATCH FOR MY LADY. 497 

put together in the undoubted strong likeness of this young 

lady to your ladyship, which is a positive fact for a jury 

in her having been brought up by Miss Barbary in Miss 
Barbary stating Miss Summerson's real name to be Hawdon 

in your ladyship's knowing both these names very well 

and in Hawdon's dying as he did to give your ladyship a 
family interest in going further into the case, I will brino- 
these papers here. I don't know what they are, except that 
they are old letters : I have never had them in my possession 
yet. I will bring those papers here, as soon as I get them ; 
and go over them for the first time with your ladyship. I 
have told your ladyship my object. I have told your lady 
ship that I should be placed in a very disagreeable situation, 
if any complaint was made ; and all is in strict confidence." 

Is this the full purpose of the young man of the name 
of Guppy, or has he any other ? Do his words disclose the 
length, breadth, depth, of his object and suspicion in coming 
here ; or, if not, what do they hide ? He is a match for my 
Lady there. She may look at him, but he can Jook at the 
table, and keep that witness-box face of his from telling 
anything. 

" You may bring the letters," says my Lady, " if you 
choose." 

" Your Ladyship is not very encouraging, upon my word 
and honour," says Mr. Guppy, a little injured. 

" You may bring the letters," she repeats, in the same tone, 
" if you please." 

"It shall be done. I wish your ladyship good day." 

On a table near her is a rich bauble of a casket, barred 
and clasped like an old strong chest. She, looking at him 
still, takes it to her and unlocks it. 

"Oh! I assure your ladyship I am not actuated by any 
motives of that sort," says Mr. Guppy; "and I couldn't 
accept anything of the kind. I wish your ladyship good day, 
and am much obliged to you all the same." 

So the young man makes his bow, and goes down-stairs; 

VOL. i, 2 K 



498 BLEAK HOUSE. 

where the supercilious Mercury does not consider himself 
called upon to leave his Olympus by the hall-fire, to let the 
young man out. 

As Sir Leicester basks in his library, and dozes over his 
newspaper, is there no influence in the house to startle him ; 
not to say, to make the very trees at Chesney Wold fling 
up their knotted arms, the very portraits frown, the very 
armour stir ? 

No. Words, sobs, and cries, are but air; and air is so 
shut in and shut out throughout the house in town, that 
sounds need be uttered trumpet-tongued indeed by my Lady 
in her chamber, to carry any faint vibration to Sir Leicester's 
ears ; and yet this cry is in the house, going upward from a 
wild figure on its knees. 

" O my child, my child ! Not dead in the first hours of 
her life, as my cruel sister told me ; but sternly nurtured by 
her, after she had renounced me and my name ! O my child, 
O my child!" 



CHAPTER XXX. 

ESTHER'S NARRATIVE. 

RICHARD had been gone away some time, when a visitor 
came to pass a few days with us. It was an elderly lady. 
It was Mrs. Woodcourt, who, having come from Wales to 
stay with Mrs. Bayham Badger, and having written to my 
guardian, "by her son Allan's desire," to report that she 
had heard from him and that he was well, "and sent his 
kind remembrances to all of us, 11 had been invited by my 
guardian to make a visit to Bleak House. She stayed with 
us nearly three weeks. She took very kindly to me, and was 
extremely confidential : so much so that sometimes she almost 
made me uncomfortable. I had no right, I knew very well, to 
be uncomfortable because she confided in me, and I felt it was 
unreasonable; still, with all I could do, I could not quite 
help it. 

She was such a sharp little lady, and used to sit with her 
hands folded in each other, looking so very watchful while 
she talked to me, that perhaps I found that rather irksome, 
perhaps it was her being so upright and trim ; though I 
don't think it was that, because I thought that quaintly 
pleasant. Nor can it have been the general expression of her 
face, which was very sparkling and pretty for an old lady. 
I don't know what it was. Or at least if I do, now, I thought 
I did not then. Or at least but it don't matter. 

Of a night when I was going up-stairs to bed, she would 



500 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



invite me into her room, where she sat before the fire in a 
great chair; and, dear me, she would tell me about Morgan 
ap Kerrig until I was quite low-spirited ! Sometimes she 
recited a few verses from Crumlinwallinwer and the Mewlin- 
willinwodd (if those are the right names, which I dare say 
they are not), and would become quite fiery with the 
sentiments they expressed. Though I never knew what they 
were (being in Welsh), further than that they were highly 
eulogistic of the lineage of Morgan ap Kerrig. 

"So, Miss Summerson, 11 she would say to me with stately 
triumph, "this you see, is the fortune inherited by my son. 
Wherever my son goes, he can claim kindred with Ap Kerrig. 
He may not have money, but he always has what is much 
better family, my dear.". 

I had my doubts of their caring so very much for Morgan 
ap Kerrig, in India and China; but of course I never ex 
pressed them. I used to say it was a great thing to be so 
highly connected. 

"It w, my dear, a great thing, 11 Mrs. Woodcourt would 
reply. " It has its disadvantages ; my son's choice of a 
wife, for instance, is limited by it; but the matrimonial 
choice of the Royal family is limited, in much the same 
manner. 11 

Then she would pat me on the arm and smooth my dress, 
as much as to assure me that she had a good opinion of me, 
the distance between us notwithstanding. 

"Poor Mr. Woodcourt, my dear, 11 she would say, and 
always with some emotion, for with her lofty pedigree she had 
a very affectionate heart, " was descended from a great High 
land family, the Mac Coorts of Mac Coort. He served his 
king and country as an officer in the Royal Highlanders, and 
he died on the field. My son is one of the last representatives 
of two old families. With the blessing of Heaven he will 
set them up again, and unite them with another old family. 11 

It was in vain for me to try to change the subject, as I 
used to try only for the sake of novelty or perhaps because 



MRS. WOODCOUR r rS WHEEDLING. 501 

but I need not be so particular. Mrs. Wocdcourt never 
would let me change it. 

"My dear," she said one night, "you have so much sense, 
and you look at the world in a quiet manner so superior to 
your time of life, that it is a comfort to me to talk to you 
about these family matters of mine. You don't know much 
of my son, my dear ; but you know enough of him, I dare 
say, to recollect him ? " 

"Yes, ma'am. I recollect him." 

" Yes, my dear. Now, my dear, I think you are a judge 
of character, and I should like to have your opinion of him ? " 

" O, Mrs. Woodcourt ! " said I, " that is so difficult." 

" Why is it so difficult, my dear," she returned. " I don't 
see it myself." 

"To give an opinion " 

"On so slight an acquaintance, my dear. Thafs true." 

I didn't mean that; because Mr. Woodcourt had been at 
our house a good deal altogether, and had become quite 
intimate with my guardian. I said so, and added that he 
seemed to be very clever in his profession we thought and 
that his kindness and gentleness to Miss Flite were above all 
praise. 

"You do him justice!" said Mrs. Woodcourt, pressing my 
hand. " You define him exactly. Allan is a dear fellow, and 
in his profession faultless. I say it, though I am his mother. 
Still, I must confess he is not without faults, love." 

" None of us are," said I. 

" Ah ! But his really are faults that he might correct, 
and ought to correct," returned the sharp old lady, sharply 
shaking her head. " I am so much attached to you, that I 
may confide in you, my dear, as a third party wholly dis 
interested, that he is fickleness itself." 

I said, I should have thought it hardly possible that he 
could have been otherwise than constant to his profession, 
and zealous in the pursuit of it, judging from the reputation 
he had earned. 



502 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"You are right again, my dear," the old lady retorted; 
"but I don't refer to his profession, look you."" 

"O!"said I. 

"No," said she. "I refer, my dear, to his social conduct J 
He is always paying trivial attentions to young ladies, and 
always has been, ever since he was eighteen. Now, my dear, 
he has never really cared for any one of them, and has never 
meant in doing this to do any harm, or to express anything 
but politeness and good nature. Still, it's not right, you 
know; is it?"" 

"No," said I, as she seemed to wait for me. 

"And it might lead to mistaken notions, you see, my 
dear." 

I supposed it might. 

"Therefore, I have told him, many times, that he really 
should be more careful, both in justice to himself and in 
justice to others. And he has always said, ' Mother, I will 
be; but you know me better than anybody else does, and 
you know I mean no harm in short, mean nothing.' All of 
which is very true, my dear, but is no justification. However, 
as he is how gone so far away, and for an indefinite time, 
and as he will have good opportunities and introductions, we 
may consider this past and gone. And you, my dear," said 
the old lady, who was now all nods and smiles ; " regarding 
your dear self, my love ? " 

" Me, Mrs. Woodcourt ? " 

" Not to be always selfish, talking of my son, who has gone 
to seek his fortune, and to find a wife when do you mean 
to seek your fortune and to find a husband, Miss Summerson ? 
Hey, look you ! Now you blush ! " 

I don't think I did blush at all events, it was not im 
portant if I did and I said, my present fortune perfectly 
contented me, and I had no wish to change it. 

"Shall I tell you what I always think of you, and the 
fortune yet to come for you, my love ? " said Mrs. Woodcourt. 

" If you believe you are a good prophet," said I. 



FORTUNE-TELLING. 503 

" Why, then, it is that you will marry some one, very rich 
and very worthy, much older five-and-twenty years, perhaps 
than yourself. And you will be an excellent wife, and 
much beloved, and very happy." 

"That is a good fortune," said I. "But why is it to be 
mine ? " 

"My dear, 1 ' she returned, "there's suitability in it you 
are so busy, and so neat, and so peculiarly situated altogether, 
that there's suitability in it, and it will come to pass. And 
nobody, my love, will congratulate you more sincerely on 
such a marriage than I shall." 

It was curious that this should make me uncomfortable, 
but I think it did. I know it did. It made me for some 
part of that night uncomfortable. I was so ashamed of my 
folly, that I did not like to confess it even to Ada; and 
that made me more uncomfortable still. I would have given 
anything not to have been so much in the bright old lady's 
confidence, if I could have possibly declined it. It gave me 
the most inconsistent opinions of her. At one time I thought 
she was a story-teller, and at another that she was the pink 
of truth. Now, I suspected that she was very cunning ; next 
moment, I believed her honest Welsh heart to be perfectly 
innocent and simple. And, after all, what did it matter to 
me, and why did it matter to me? Why could not I, going 
up to bed with my basket of keys, stop to sit down by her 
fire, and accommodate myself for a little while to her, at least 
as well as to anybody else ; and not trouble myself about the 
harmless things she said to me? Impelled towards her, as I 
certainly was, for I was very anxious that she should like me, 
-.nd was very glad indeed that she did, why should I harp 
afterwards, with actual distress and pain, on every word she 
said, and weigh it over and over again in twenty scales? 
Why was it so worrying to me to have her in our house, 
and confidential to me every night, when I yet felt that it 
was better and safer, somehow, that she should be there than 
anywhere else? These were perplexities and contradictions 



504 BLEAK HOUSE. 

that I could not account for. At least, if I could but I 
shall come to all that by-and-by, and it is mere idleness to 
go on about it now. 

So, when Mrs. Woodcourt went away, I was sorry to lose 
her, but was relieved too. And then Caddy Jellyby came 
down ; and Caddy brought such a packet of domestic news, 
that it gave us abundant occupation. 

First, Caddy declared (and would at first declare nothing 
else) that I was the best adviser that ever was known. This, 
my pet said, was no news at all ; and this, / said, of course, was 
nonsense. Then Caddy told us that she was going to be 
married in a month; and that if Ada and I would be her 
bridesmaids, she was the happiest girl in the world. To be 
sure, this was news indeed ; and I thought we never should 
have done talking about it, we had so much to say to Caddy, 
and Caddy had so much to say to us. 

It seemed that Caddy's unfortunate papa had got over his 
bankruptcy " gone through the Gazette,' 1 was the expression 
Caddy used, as if it were a tunnel, with the general clemency 
and commiseration of his creditors; and had got rid of his 
affairs in some blessed manner, without succeeding in under 
standing them ; and had given up everything he possessed 
(which was not worth much, I should think, to judge from 
the state of the furniture), and had satisfied every one con 
cerned that he could do no more, poor man. So, he had 
been honourably dismissed to " the office," to begin the world 
again. What he did at the office, I never knew : Caddy said 
he was a " Custom-House and General Agent, 1 ' and the only 
thing I ever understood about that business was, that when 
he wanted money more than usual he went to the Docks to 
look for it, and hardly ever found it. 

As soon as her papa had tranquillised his mind by becoming 
this shorn lamb, and they had removed to a furnished lodging 
in Hatton Garden (where I found the children, when I after 
wards went there, cutting the horsehair out of the seats of the 
chairs, and choking themselves with it), Caddy had brought 



WILD INDIANS. 505 

about a meeting between him and old Mr. Turveydrop ; and 
poor Mr. Jellyby, being very humble and meek, had deferred 
to Mr. Turveydrop's Deportment so submissively, that they 
had become excellent friends. By degrees, old Mr. Turveydrop, 
thus familiarised with the idea of his son's marriage, had 
worked up his parental feelings to the height of contemplating 
that event as being near at hand ; and had given his gracious 
consent to the young couple commencing housekeeping at 
the Academy in Newman Street, when they would. 

" And your papa, Caddy. What did he say ? " 

" O ! poor Pa," said Caddy, " only cried, and said he hoped 
we might get on better than he and Ma had got on. He 
didn't say so before Prince, he only said so to me. And he 
said, ' My poor girl, you have not been very well taught how 
to make a home for your husband ; but unless you mean with 
all your heart to strive to do it, you had better murder him 
than marry him if you really love him." 1 

" And how did you reassure him, Caddy ? " 

"Why, it was very distressing, you know, to see poor Pa 
so low, and hear him say such terrible things, and I couldn't 
help crying myself. But I told him that I did mean it with 
all my heart; and that I hoped our house would be a 
place for him to come and find some comfort in, of an 
evening; and that I hoped and thought I could be a better 
daughter to him there, than at home. Then I mentioned 
Peepy's coming to stay with me ; and then Pa began to cry 
again, and said the children were Indians." 

"Indians, Caddy?" 

"Yes," said Caddy, "Wild Indians. And Pa said," 
(here she began to sob, poor girl, not at all like the happiest 
girl in the world) "that he was sensible the best thing 
that could happen to them was, their being all Tomahawked 
together." 

Ada suggested that it was comfortable to know that Mr. 
Jellyby did not mean these destructive sentiments. 

"No, of course I know Pa wouldn't like his family to be 



506 BLEAK HOUSE. 

weltering in their blood, 1 ' said Caddy; "but lie means that 
they are very unfortunate in being Ma's children, and that 
he is very unfortunate in being Ma's husband ; and I am sure 
that's true, though it seems unnatural to say so." 

I asked Caddy if Mrs. Jellyby knew that her wedding-day 
was fixed. 

" O ! you know what Ma is, Esther," she returned. It's 
impossible to say whether she knows it or not. She has 
been told it often enough ; and when she is told it, she only 
gives me a placid look, as if I was I don't know what a 
steeple in the distance," said Caddy, with a sudden idea; 
"and then she shakes her head, and says 'O Caddy, Caddy, 
what a tease you are!' and goes on with the Borrioboola 
letters." 

"And about your wardrobe, Caddy?" said I. For she 
was under no restraint with us. 

" Well, my dear Esther," she returned, drying her eyes, " I 
must do the best I can, and trust to my dear Prince never 
to have an unkind remembrance of my coming so shabbily to 
him. If the question concerned an outfit for Borrioboola, Ma 
would know all about it, and would be quite excited. Being 
what it is, she neither knows nor cares." 

Caddy was not at all deficient in natural affection for her 
mother, but mentioned this with tears, as an undeniable fact : 
which I am afraid it was. We were sorry for the poor dear 
girl, and found so much to admire in the good disposition 
which had survived under such discouragement, that we both 
at once (I mean Ada and I) proposed a little scheme, that 
made her perfectly joyful. This was, her staying with us for 
three weeks ; my staying with her for one ; and our all three 
contriving and cutting out, and repairing, and sewing, and 
saving, and doing the very best we could think of, to make 
the most of her stock. My guardian being as pleased with 
the idea as Caddy was, we took her home next day to 
arrange the matter; and brought her out again in triumph, 
with her boxes, and all the purchases that could be squeezed 



PREPARATIONS FOR CADDY'S MARRIAGE. 507 

out of a ten-pound note, which Mr. Jellyby had found in 
the Docks I suppose, but which he at all events gave her. 
What my guardian would not have given her, if we had 
encouraged him, it would be difficult to say ; but we thought 
it right to compound for no more than her wedding-dress 
and bonnet. He agreed to this compromise; and if Caddy 
had ever been happy in her life, she was happy when we sat 
down to work. 

She was clumsy enough with her needle, poor girl, and 
pricked her fingers as much as she had been used to ink them. 
She could not help reddening a little, now and then : partly 
with the smart, and partly with vexation at being able to do 
no better ; but she soon got over that, and began to improve 
rapidly. So, day after day, she, and my darling, and my little 
maid Charley, and a milliner out of the town, and I, sat hard 
at work, as pleasantly as possible. 

Over and above this, Caddy was very anxious "to learn 
housekeeping, 1 ' as she said. Now, Mercy upon us ! the idea 
of her learning housekeeping of a person of my vast experi 
ence was such a joke, that I laughed, and coloured up, and 
fell into a comical confusion when she proposed it. However, 
I said, "Caddy, I am sure you are very welcome to learn 
anything that you can learn of me, my dear ; " and I showed 
her all my books and methods, and all my fidgety ways. You 
would have supposed that I was showing her some wonderful 
inventions, by her study of them ; and if you had seen her, 
whenever I jingled my housekeeping keys, get up and attend 
me, certainly you might have thought that there never was a 
greater impostor than I, with a blinder follower than Caddy 
Jellyby. 

So, what with working and housekeeping, and lessons to 
Charley, and backgammon in the evening with my guardian, 
and duets with Ada, the three weeks slipped fast away. Then 
I went home with Caddy, to see what could be done there ; 
and Ada and Charley remained behind, to take care of my 
guardian. 



508 BLEAK HOUSE. 

When I say I went home with Caddy, I mean to the 
furnished lodging in Hatton Garden. We went to Newman 
Street two or three times, where preparations were in progress 
too ; a good many, I observed, for enhancing the comforts 
of old Mr. Turveydrop, and a few for putting the newly 
married couple away cheaply at the top of the house; but 
our great point was to make the furnished lodging decent for 
the wedding-breakfast, and to imbue Mrs. Jellyby beforehand 
with some faint sense of the occasion. 

The latter was the more difficult thing of the two, because 
Mrs. Jellyby and an unwholesome boy occupied the front 
sitting-room (the back one was a mere closet), and it was 
littered down with waste paper and Borrioboolan documents, 
as an untidy stable might be littered with straw. Mrs. 
Jellyby sat there all day, drinking strong coffee, dictating, and 
holding Borrioboolan interviews by appointment. The un 
wholesome boy, who seemed to me to be going into a decline, 
took his meals out of the house. When Mr. Jellyby came 
home, he usually groaned and went down into the kitchen. 
There he got something to eat, if the servant would give 
him anything ; and then, feeling that he was in the way, 
went out and walked about Hatton Garden in the wet. 
The poor children scrambled up and tumbled down the house, 
as they had always been accustomed to do. 

The production of these devoted little sacrifices, in any 
presentable condition, being quite out of the question at a 
week's notice, I proposed to Caddy that we should make them 
as happy as we could, on her marriage morning, in the attic 
where they all slept; and should confine our greatest efforts 
to her mama and her mama's room, and a clean breakfast. 
In truth Mrs. Jellyby required a good deal of attention, the 
lattice-work up her back having widened considerably since I 
first knew her, and her hair looking like the mane of a dust 
man's horse. 

Thinking that the display of Caddy's wardrobe would be 
the best means of approaching the subject, I invited Mrs. 



INSPECTION OF CADDY'S WARDROBE. 509 

Jellyby to come and look at it spread out on Caddy's bed, in 
the evening after the unwholesome boy was gone. 

" My dear Miss Summerson," said she, rising from her desk, 
with her usual sweetness of temper, " these are really ridicu 
lous preparations, though your assisting them is a proof of 
your kindness. There is something so inexpressibly absurd 
to me, in the idea of Caddy being married ! O Caddy, you 
silly, silly, silly puss ! " 

She came up-stairs with us notwithstanding, and looked at 
the clothes in her customary far-off manner. They suggested 
one distinct idea to her; for she said, with her placid smile, 
and shaking her head, "My good Miss Summerson, at half 
the cost, this weak child might have been equipped for 
Africa ! " 

On our going down-stairs again, Mrs. Jellyby asked me 
whether this troublesome business was really to take place 
next Wednesday ? And on my replying yes, she said, " Will 
my room be required, my dear Miss Summerson ? For it's 
quite impossible that I can put my papers away." 

I took the liberty of saying that the room would certainly 
be wanted, and that I thought we must put the papers away 
somewhere. "Well, my dear Miss Summerson," said Mrs. 
Jellyby, " you know best, I dare say. But by obliging me to 
employ a boy, Caddy has embarrassed me to that extent, over 
whelmed as I am with public business, that I don't know 
which way to turn. We have a Ramification meeting, too, 
on Wednesday afternoon, and the inconvenience is very 
serious." 

" It is not likely to occur again," said I, smiling. " Caddy 
will be married but once, probably." 

" That's true," Mrs. Jellyby replied, " that's true, my dear. 
I suppose we must make the best of it ! " 

The next question was, how Mrs. Jellyby should be dressed 
on the occasion. I thought it very curious to see her looking 
on serenely from her writing-table, while Caddy and I dis 
cussed it; occasionally shaking her head at us with a half- 



510 BLEAK HOUSE. 

reproachful smile, like a superior spirit who could just bear 
with our trifling. 

The state in which her dresses were, and the extraordinary 
confusion in which she kept them, added not a little to our 
difficulty ; but at length we devised something not very unlike 
what a common-place mother might wear on such an occasion. 
The abstracted manner in which Mrs. Jelly by would deliver 
herself up to having this attire tried on by the dressmaker, 
and the sweetness with which she would then observe to me 
how sorry she was that I had not turned my thoughts to 
Africa, were consistent with the rest of her behaviour. 

The lodging was rather confined as to space, but I fancied 
that if Mrs. Jellyby's household had been the only lodgers in 
Saint Paul's or Saint Peter's, the sole advantage they would 
have found in the size of the building would have been its 
affording a great deal of room to be dirty in. I believe that 
nothing belonging to the family, which it had been possible 
to break, was unbroken at the time of those preparations for 
Caddy's marriage; that nothing which it had been possible 
to spoil in any way, was unspoilt; and that no domestic 
object which was capable of collecting dirt, from a dear child's 
knee to the door-plate, was without as much dirt as could 
well accumulate upon it. 

Poor Mr. Jellyby, who very seldom spoke, and almost 
always sat when he was at home with his head against the 
wall, became interested when he saw that Caddy and I were 
attempting to establish some order among all this waste and 
ruin, and took off his coat to help. But such wonderful 
things came tumbling out of the closets when they were 
opened bits of mouldy pie, sour bottles, Mrs. Jellyby's caps, 
letters, tea, forks, odd boots and shoes of children, firewood, 
wafers, saucepan-lids, damp sugar in odds and ends of paper 
bags, footstools, blacklead brushes, bread, Mrs. Jellyby's 
bonnets, books with butter sticking to the binding, guttered 
candle-ends put out by being turned upside down in broken 
candlesticks, nutshells, heads and tails of shrimps, dinner-mats, 



MR. JELLYBY SPEAKS. 51 1 

gloves, coffee-grounds, umbrellas that he looked frightened, 
and left off again. But he came regularly every evening, and 
sat without his coat, with his head against the wall; as 
though he would have helped us, if he had known how. 

" Poor Pa ! " said Caddy to me, on the night before the 
great day, when we really had got things a little to rights. 
"It seems unkind to leave him, Esther. But what could I 
do, if I stayed ! Since I first knew you, I have tidied and 
tidied over and over again ; but it's useless. Ma and Africa, 
together, upset the whole house directly. We never have a 
servant who don't drink. Ma's ruinous to everything." 

Mr. Jellyby could not hear what she said, but he seemed 
very low indeed, and shed tears, I thought. 

" My heart aches for him ; that it does ! " sobbed Caddy. 
" I can't help thinking, to-night, Esther, how dearly I hope 
to be happy with Prince, and how dearly Pa hoped, I dare 
say, to be happy with Ma. What a disappointed life ! " 

" My dear Caddy 1 " said Mr. Jellyby, looking slowly round 
from the wall. It was the first time, I think, I ever heard 
him say three words together. 

" Yes, Pa ! " cried Caddy, going to him and embracing him 
affectionately. 

"My dear Caddy," said Mr. Jellyby. "Never have " 

" Not Prince, Pa ? " faltered Caddy. " Not have 
Prince?" 

" Yes, my dear," said Mr. Jellyby. " Have him, certainly. 
But, never have " 

I mentioned, in my account of our first visit in Thavies 
Inn, that Richard described Mr. Jellyby as frequently opening 
his mouth after dinner without saying anything. It was a 
habit of his. He opened his mouth now, a great many times, 
and shook his head in a melancholy manner. 

" What do you wish me not to have ? Don't have what, 
dear Pa?" asked Caddy, coaxing him, with her arms round 
his neck. 

" Never have a Mission, my dear child." 



51 2 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Mr. Jelly by groaned, and laid his head again*! the wall 
again ; and this was the only time I ever heard him make 
an approach to expressing his sentiments on the Borrioboolan 
question. I suppose he had been more talkative and lively, 
once ; but he seemed to have been completely exhausted long 
before I knew him. 

I thought Mrs. Jellyby never would have left off serenely 
looking over her papers, and drinking coffee, that night. It 
was twelve o'clock before we could obtain possession of 
the room ; and the clearance it required then, was so dis 
couraging, that Caddy, who was almost tired out, sat down 
in the middle of the dust, and cried. But she soon cheered 
up, and we did wonders with it before we went to bed. 

In the morning it looked, by the aid of a few flowers and 
a quantity of soap and water, and a little arrangement, quite 
gay. The plain breakfast made a cheerful show, and Caddy 
was perfectly charming. But when my darling came, I 
thought and I think now that I never had seen such a 
dear face as my beautiful pet's. 

We made a little feast for the children up-stairs, and we 
put Peepy at the head of the table, and we showed them 
Caddy in her bridal dress, and they clapped their hands and 
hurrahed, and Caddy cried to think that she was going away 
from them, and hugged them over and over again, until we 
brought Prince up to fetch her away when, I am sorry to 
say, Peepy bit him. Then there was old Mr. Turveydrop 
down-stairs, in a state of Deportment not to be expressed, 
benignly blessing Caddy, and giving my guardian to under 
stand, that his son's happiness was his own parental work, 
and that he sacrificed personal considerations to ensure it. 
" My dear sir," said Mr. Turveydrop, " these young people 
will live with me ; my house is large enough for their 
accommodation, and they shall not want the shelter of my 
roof. I could have wished you will understand the illusion, 
Mr. Jarndyce, for you remember my illustrious patron the 
Prince Regent I could have wished that my son had married 



THE WEDDING GUESTS. 



513 



into a family where there was more Deportment; but the 
will of Heaven be done ! " 

Mr. and Mrs. Pardiggle were of the party Mr. Pardiggle, 
an obstinate-looking man 'with a large waistcoat and stubbly 
hair, who was always talking in a loud bass voice about his 
mite, or Mrs. Pardiggle's mite, or their five boys' mites. Mr. 
Quale, with his hair brushed back as usual, and his knobs 
of temples shining very much, was also there ; not in the 
character of a disappointed lover, but as the Accepted of a 
young at least, an unmarried lady, a Miss Wisk, who was 
also there. Miss Wisk's mission, my guardian said, was to 
show the world that woman's mission was man's mission ; and 
that the only genuine mission, of both man and woman, was 
to be always moving declaratory resolutions about things in 
general at public meetings. The guests were few ; but were, 
as one might expect at Mrs. Jellyby's, all devoted to public 
objects only. Besides those I have mentioned, there was an 
extremely dirty lady, with her bonnet all awry, and the 
ticketed price of her dress still sticking on it, whose neglected 
home, Caddy told me, was like a filthy wilderness, but whose 
church was like a fancy fair. A very contentious gentleman, 
who said it was his mission to be everybody's brother, but 
who appeared to be on terms of coolness with the whole of 
his large family, completed the party. 

A party, having less in common with such an occasion, 
could hardly have been got together by any ingenuity. Such 
a mean mission as the domestic mission, was the very last 
thing to be endured among them ; indeed, Miss Wisk informed 
us, with great indignation, before we sat down to breakfast, 
that the idea of woman's mission lying chiefly in the narrow 
sphere of Home was an outrageous slander on the part of her 
Tyrant, Man. One other singularity was, that nobody with 
a mission except Mr. Quale, whose mission, as I think I 
have formerly said, was to be in ecstasies with everybody's 
mission cared at all for anybody's mission. Mrs. Pardiggle 
being as clear that the only one infallible course was her 

VOL. i. 2 L 



514 BLEAK HOUSE. 

course of pouncing upon the poor, and applying benevolence 
to them like a strait-waistcoat ; as Miss Wisk was that the 
only practical thing for the world was the emancipation of 
Woman from the thraldom of her Tyrant, Man. Mrs. 
Jelly by, all the while, sat smiling at the limited vision that 
could see anything but Borrioboola-Gha. 

But I am anticipating now the purport of our conversation 
on the ride home, instead of first marrying Caddy. We all 
went to church, and Mr. Jellyby gave her away. Of the air 
with which old Mr. Turveydrop, with his hat under his left 
arm, (the inside presented at the clergyman like a cannon,) 
and his eyes creasing themselves up into his wig, stood, stiff 
and high-shouldered, behind us bridesmaids during the cere 
mony, and afterwards saluted us, I could never say enough 
to do it justice. Miss Wisk, whom I cannot report as pre 
possessing in appearance, and whose manner was grim, listened 
to the proceedings, as part of Woman's wrongs, with a dis 
dainful face. Mrs. Jellyby, with her calm smile and her 
bright eyes, looked the least concerned of all the company. 

We duly came back to breakfast, and Mrs. Jellyby sat at 
the head of the table, and Mr. Jellyby at the foot. Caddy 
had previously stolen up-stairs, to hug the children again, 
and tell them that her name was Turveydrop. But this 
piece of information, instead of being an agreeable surprise 
to Peepy, threw him on his back in such transports of 
kicking grief, that I could do nothing on being sent for, 
but accede to the proposal that he should be admitted to 
the breakfast table. So he came down, and sat in my lap ; 
and Mrs. Jellyby, after saying, in reference to the state of his 
pianoforte, " O you naughty Peepy, what a shocking little pig 
you are ! " was not at all discomposed. He was very good, 
except that he brought down Noah with him (out of an ark I 
had given him before we went to church), and would dip him 
head first into the wine-glasses, and then put him in his mouth. 

My guardian, with his sweet temper and his quick per 
ception and his amiable face, made something agreeable even 



CADDY JELLYBY MARRIED. 515 

out of the ungenial company. None of them seemed able to 
talk about anything but his, or her, own one subject, and 
none of them seemed able to talk about even that, as part 
of a world in which there was anything else ; but my guardian 
turned it all to the merry encouragement of Caddy, and the 
honour of the occasion, and brought us through the break 
fast nobly. What we should have done without him, I am 
afraid to think : for, all the company despising the bride and 
bridegroom, and old Mr. Turveydrop and old Mr. Turvey- 
drop, in virtue of his Deportment, considering himself vastly 
superior to all the company it was a very unpromising 
case. 

At last the time came when poor Caddy was to go, and 
when all her property was packed on the hired coach and 
pair that was to take her and her husband to Gravesend. 
It affected us to see Caddy clinging, then, to her deplorable 
home, and hanging on her mother's neck with the greatest 
tenderness. 

" I am very sorry I couldn't go on writing from dictation, 
Ma," sobbed Caddy. " I hope you forgive me now ? " 

" O Caddy, Caddy ! " said Mrs. Jellyby, " I have told you 
over and over again that I have engaged a boy, and there's 
an end of it."" 

" You are sure you are not the least angry with me, Ma ? 
Say you are sure before I go away, Ma ? " 

" You foolish Caddy," returned Mrs. Jellyby, " do I look 
angry, or have I inclination to be angry, or time to be angry ? 
How can you ? " 

" Take a little care of Pa while I am gone, mama ! " 

Mrs. Jellyby positively laughed at the fancy. "You 
romantic child," said she, lightly patting Caddy's back. 
"Go along. I am excellent friends with you. Now, good 
bye, Caddy, and be veiy happy ! " 

Then Caddy hung upon her father, and nursed his cheek 
against hers as if he were some poor dull child in pain. All 
this took place in the hall. Her father released her, took 



516 BLEAK HOUSE. 

out his pocket-handkerchief, and sat down on the stairs with 
his head against the wall. I hope he found some consolation 
in walls. I almost think he did. 

And then Prince took her arm in his, and turned with 
great emotion and respect to his father, whose Deportment 
at that moment was overwhelming. 

" Thank you over and over again, father! 11 said Prince, 
kissing his hand. " I am very grateful for all your kindness 
and consideration regarding our marriage, and so, I can assure 
you, is Caddy/' 

" Very, 1 ' sobbed Caddy. " Ve-ry ! " 

" My dear son,*" said Mr. Turveydrop, " and dear daughter, 
I have done my duty. If the spirit of a sainted Wooman 
hovers above us, and looks down on the occasion, that, and 
your constant affection, will be my recompense. You will 
not fail in your duty, my son and daughter, I believe ? " 

" Dear father, never ! " cried Prince. 

" Never, never, dear Mr. Turveydrop ! " said Caddy. 

"This," returned Mr. Turveydrop, "is as it should be. 
My children, my home is yours, my heart is yours, my all is 
yours. I will never leave you ; nothing but Death shall 
part us. My dear son, you contemplate an absence of a 
week, I think?" 

"A week, dear father. We shall return home this day 
week." 

"My dear child," said Mr. Turveydrop, "let me, even 
under the present exceptional circumstances, recommend 
strict punctuality. It is highly important to keep the con 
nexion together ; and schools, if at all neglected, are apt to 
take offence." 

"This day week, father, we shall be sure to be home to 
dinner." 

" Good ! " said Mr. Turveydrop. " You will find fires, my 
dear Caroline, in your own room, and dinner prepared in my 
apartment. Yes, yes, Prince ! " anticipating some self-denying 
objection on his son's part with a great air. " You and our 



A COMPLIMENT FROM MR. JELLYBY. 517 

Caroline will be strange in the upper part of the premises, 
and will, therefore, dine that day in my apartment. Now, 
bless ye ! " 

They drove away ; and whether I wondered most at Mrs. 
Jellyby, or at Mr. Turveydrop, I did not know. Ada and 
my guardian were in the same condition when we came to 
talk it over. But before we drove away, too, I received a 
most unexpected and eloquent compliment from Mr. Jellyby. 
He came up to me in the hall, took both my hands, pressed 
them earnestly, and opened his mouth twice. I was so sure 
of his meaning, that I said, quite flurried, " You are very 
welcome, sir. Pray don't mention it ! " 

" I hope this marriage is for the best, Guardian ? " said I, 
when we three were on our road home. 

" I hope it is, little woman. Patience. We shall see." 

"Is the wind in the East to-day ?" I ventured to ask him. 

He laughed heartily, and answered " No." 

" But it must have been this morning, I think," said I. 

He answered, " No," again ; and this time my dear girl 
confidently answered " No," too, and shook the lovely head 
which, with its blooming flowers against the golden hair, was 
like the very Spring. " Much you know of East winds, my 
ugly darling," said I, kissing her in my admiration I 
couldn't help it. 

Well ! It was only their love for me, I know very well, 
and it is a long time ago. I must write it, even if I rub it 
out again, because it gives me so much pleasure. They said 
there could be no East wind where Somebody was ; they said 
that wherever Dame Burden went, there was sunshine and 
summer air. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

NURSE AND PATIENT. 

I HAD not been at home again many days, when one evening 
I went up-stairs into my own room to take a peep over 
Charley's shoulder, and see how she was getting on with her 
copy-book. Writing was a trying business to Charley, who 
seemed to have no natural power over a pen, but in whose 
hand every pen appeared to become perversely animated, and 
to go wrong and crooked, and to stop, and splash, and sidle 
into corners, like a saddle-donkey. It was very odd, to see 
what old letters Charley's young hand had made; they, so 
wrinkled, and shrivelled, and tottering; it, so plump and 
round. Yet Charley was uncommonly expert at other things, 
and had as nimble little fingers as I ever watched. 

" Well, Charley," said I, looking over a copy of the letter 
O in which it was represented as square, triangular, pear- 
shaped, and collapsed in all kinds of ways, " we are im 
proving. If we only get to make it round, we shall be 
perfect, Charley. 11 

Then I made one, and Charley made one, and the pen 
wouldn't join Charley's neatly, but twisted it up into a knot. 

" Never mind, Charley. We shall do it in time." 

Charley laid down her pen, the copy being finished ; 
opened and shut her cramped little hand ; looked gravely at 
the page, half in pride and half in doubt; and got up, and 
dropped me a curtsey. 



THE BRICKMAKER'S WIFE. 519 

"Thank you, miss. If you please, miss, did you know a 
poor person of the name of Jenny ? " 

" A brickmaker's wife, Charley ? Yes.' 1 

" She came and spoke to me when I was out a little while 
ago, and said you knew her, miss. She asked me if I wasn't 
the young lady's little maid meaning you for the young 
lady, miss and I said yes, miss." 

"I thought she had left this neighbourhood altogether, 
Charley." 

" So she had, miss, but she's come back again to where she 
used to live she and Liz. Did you know another poor 
person of the name of Liz, miss ? " 

"I think I do, Charley, though not by name." 

"That's what she said!" returned Charley. "They have 
both come back, miss, and have been tramping high and 
low." 

" Tramping high and low, have they, Charley ? " 

" Yes, miss." If Charley could only have made the letters 
in her copy as round as the eyes with which she looked 
into my face, they would have been excellent. "And this 
poor person came about the house three or four days, hoping 
to get a glimpse of you, miss all she wanted, she said but 
you were away. That was when she saw me. She saw me 
a-going about, miss," said Charley, with a short laugh of 
the greatest delight and pride, "and she thought I looked 
like your maid ! " 

"Did she though, really, Charley?" 

" Yes, miss ! " said Charley, " really and truly." And 
Charley, with another short laugh of the purest glee, made 
her eyes very round again, and looked as serious as became 
my maid. I was never tired of seeing Charley in the full 
enjoyment of that great dignity, standing before me with her 
youthful face and figure, and her steady manner, and her 
childish exultation breaking through it now and then in the 
pleasantest way. 

" And where did you see her, Charley?" said I. 



520 BLEAK HOUSE. 

My little maid's countenance fell, as she replied, "By the 
doctor's shop, miss." For Charley wore her black frock yet. 

I asked if the brickmaker's wife were ill, but Charley said 
No. It was some one else. Some one in her cottage who 
had tramped down to Saint Albans, and was tramping he 
didn't know where. A poor boy, Charley said. No father, 
no mother, no any one. "Like as Tom might have been, 
miss, if Emma and me had died after father," said Charley, 
her round eyes filling with tears. 

" And she was getting medicine for him, Charley ? " 

" She said, miss," returned Charley, " how that he had once 
done as much for her." 

My little maid's face was so eager, and her quiet hands 
were folded so closely in one another as she stood looking at 
me, that I had no great difficulty in reading her thoughts. 
" Well, Charley," said I, " it appears to me that you and I 
can do no better than go round to Jenny's and see what's 
the matter." 

The alacrity with which Charley brought my bonnet and 
veil, and, having dressed me, quaintly pinned herself into her 
warm shawl and made herself look like a little old woman, 
sufficiently expressed her readiness. So Charley and I, with 
out saying anything to any one, went out. 

It was a cold, wild night, and the trees shuddered in the 
wind. The rain had been thick and heavy all day, and with 
little intermission for many days. None was falling just then, 
however. The sky had partly cleared, but was very gloomy 
even above us, where a few stars were shining. In the north 
and north-west, where the sun had set three hours before, 
there was a pale dead light both beautiful and awful ; and 
into it long sullen lines of cloud waved up, like a sea stricken 
immovable as it was heaving. Towards London, a lurid glare 
overhung the whole dark waste; and the contrast between 
these two lights, and the fancy which the redder light en 
gendered of an unearthly fire, gleaming on all the unseen 
buildings of the city, and on all the faces of its many 



SURPRISE AND TERROR OF THE BOY. 521 

thousands of wondering inhabitants, was as solemn as 
might be. 

I had no thought, that night none, I am quite sure of 
what was soon to happen to me. But I have always re 
membered since, that when we had stopped at the garden-gate 
to look up at the sky, and when we went upon our way, I 
had for a moment an undefinable impression of myself as being 
something different from what I then was. I know it was 
then, and there, that I had it. I have ever since connected the 
feeling with that spot and time, and with everything associated 
with that spot and time, to the distant voices in the town, 
the barking of a dog, and the sound of wheels coming down 
the miry hill. 

It was Saturday night; and most of the people belonging 
to the place where we were going, were drinking elsewhere. 
We found it quieter than I had previously seen it, though 
quite as miserable. The kilns were burning, and a stifling 
vapour set towards us with a pale blue glare. 

We came to the cottage, where there was a feeble candle in 
the patched window. We tapped at the door, and went in. 
The mother of the little child who had died, was sitting in 
a chair on one side of the poor fire by the bed ; and opposite 
to her, a wretched boy, supported by the chimney-piece, was 
cowering on the floor. He held under his arm like a little 
bundle, a fragment of a fur cap ; and as he tried to warm 
himself, he shook until the crazy door and window shook. 
The place was closer than before, and had an unhealthy, and 
a very peculiar smell. 

I had not lifted my veil when I first spoke to the woman, 
which was at the moment of our going in. The boy staggered 
up instantly, and stared at me with a remarkable expression 
of surprise and terror. 

His action was so quick, and my being the cause of it was 
so evident, that I stood still, instead of advancing nearer. 

" 1 won't go no more to the berryin ground," muttered the 
boy ; " I ain't a-going there, so I tell you ! " 



522 BLEAK HOUSE. 

I lifted my veil and spoke to the woman. She said to me 
in a low voice, "Don't mind him, ma'am. He'll soon come 
back to his head;" and said to him, "Jo, Jo, what's the 
matter ?" 

" I know wot she's come for ! " cried the boy. 

"Who?" 

"The lady there. She's come to get me to go along with 
her to the berryin ground. I won't go to the berryin ground. 
I don't like the name on it. She might go a-berryin me? 
His shivering came on again, and as he leaned against the 
wall, he shook the hovel. 

" He has been talking off and on about such like, all day, 
ma'am," said Jenny, softly. " Why, how you stare ! This is 
my lady, Jo." 

"Is it?" returned the boy, doubtfully, and surveying me 
with his arm held out above his burning eyes. "She looks 
to me the t'other one. It ain't the bonnet, nor yet it ain't 
the gownd, but she looks to me the t'other one." 

My little Charley, with her premature experience of illness 
and trouble, had pulled off her bonnet and shawl, and now 
went quietly up to him with a chair, and sat him down in 
it like an old sick nurse. Except that no such attendant 
could have shown him Charley's youthful face, which seemed 
to engage his confidence. 

" I say ! '" said the boy. " You tell me. Ain't the lady 
the t'other lady?" 

Charley shook her head, as she methodically drew his rags 
about him and made him as warm as she could. 

" O ! " the boy muttered. " Then I 'spose she ain't." 

" I came to see if I could do you any good," said I. 
"What is the matter with you?" 

"I'm a-being froze," returned the boy, hoarsely, with his 
haggard gaze wandering about me, "and then burnt up, and 
then froze, and then burnt up, ever so many times in a hour. 
And my head's all sleepy, and all a-going mad-like and I'm 
so dry and my bones isn't half so much bones as pain." 



TWO OF THEM? 523 

" When did he come here ? " I asked the woman. 

"This morning, ma'am, I found him at the corner of the 
town. I had known him up in London yonder. Hadn't I, Jo ? " 

"Tom-all- Alone V the boy replied. 

Whenever he fixed his attention or his eyes, it was only 
for a very little while. He soon began to droop his head 
again, and roll it heavily, and speak as if he were half awake. 

" When did he come from London ? " I asked. 

"I come from London yes'day," said the boy himself, now 
flushed and hot. " I'm a-going somewheres." 

" Where is he going ?" I asked. 

" Somewheres," repeated the boy, in a louder tone. "I 
have been moved on, and moved on, more nor ever I was afore, 
since the t'other one giv' me the sov'ring. Mrs. Snagsby, 
she's always a- watching, and a-driving of me what have I 
done to her ? and they're all a- watching and a-driving of me. 
Every one of 'em's doing of it, from the time when I don't 
get up, to the time when I don't go to bed. And I'm 
a-going somewheres. That's where I'm a-going. She told 
me, down in Tom-all- Alone's, as she came from Stolbuns, and 
so I took the Stolbuns Road. It's as good as another."" 

He always concluded by addressing Charley. 

" What is to be done with him ? " said I, taking the 
woman aside. " He could not travel in this state, even if he 
had a purpose, and knew where he was going!" 

"I know no more, ma'am, than the dead," she replied, 
glancing compassionately at him. " Perhaps the dead know 
better, if they could only tell us. I've kept him here all day 
for pity's sake, and I've given him broth and physic, and Liz 
has gone to try if any one will take him in (here's my pretty 
in the bed her child, but I call it mine) ; but I can't keep 
him long, for if my husband was to come home and find him 
here, he'd be rough in putting him out, and might do him 
a hurt. Hark ! Here comes Liz back ! " 

The other woman came hurriedly in as she spoke, and the 
boy got up with a half-obscured sense that he was expected 



524 



BLEAK HOUSE. 



to be going. When the little child awoke, and when and 
how Charley got at it, took it out of bed, and began to 
walk about hushing it, I don't know. There she was, doing 
all this, in a quiet motherly manner, as if she were living in 
Mrs. Blinders attic with Tom and Emma again. 

The friend had been here and there, and had been played 
about from hand to hand, and had come back as she went. 
At first it was too early for the boy to be received into the 
proper refuge, and at last it was too late. One official sent 
her to another, and the other sent her back again to the 
first, and so backward and forward; until it appeared to me 
as if both must have been appointed for their skill in evading 
their duties, instead of performing them. And now, after 
all, she said, breathing quickly, for she had been running, 
and was frightened too, "Jenny, your master's on the road 
home, and mine's not far behind, and the Lord help the 
boy, for we can do no more for him ! " They put a few half 
pence together, and hurried them into his hand, and so, in 
an oblivious, half-thankful, half-insensible way, he shuffled 
out of the house. 

" Give me the child, my dear ! " said its mother to Charley, 
" and thank you kindly too ! Jenny, woman dear, good night ! 
Young lady, if my master don't fall out with me, I'll look 
down by the kiln by-and-by, where the boy will be most 
like, and again in the morning ! " She hurried off; and 
presently we passed her hushing and singing to her child at 
her own door, and looking anxiously along the road for her 
drunken husband. 

I was afraid of staying then, to speak to either woman, 
lest I should bring her into trouble. But I said to Charley 
that we must not leave the boy to die. Charley, who knew 
what to do much better than I did, and whose quickness 
equalled her presence of mind, glided on before me, and pre 
sently we came up with Jo, just short of the brick-kiln. 

I think he must have begun his journey with some small 
bundle under his arm, and must have had it stolen, or lost 



OR THREE OF THEM? 525 

it. For he still carried his wretched fragment of fur cap like 
a bundle, though he went bareheaded through the rain, which 
now fell fast. He stopped when we called to him, and again 
showed a dread of me when I came up; standing with his 
lustrous eyes fixed upon me, and even arrested in his shiver 
ing fit. 

I asked him to come with us, and we would take care that 
he had some shelter for the night. 

" I don't want no shelter," he said ; " I can lay amongst the 
warm bricks." 

"But don't you know that people die there? 1 ' replied 
Charley. 

"They dies everywheres," said the boy. "They dies in 
their lodgings she knows where; I showed her and they 
dies down in Tom-all-Alone's in heaps. They dies more 
than they lives, according to what / see." Then he hoarsely 
whispered Charley. "If she ain't the t'other one, she ain't 
the forrenner." Is there three of 'em then ? " 

Charley looked at me a little frightened. I felt half 
frightened at myself when the boy glared on me so. 

But he turned and followed, when I beckoned to him ; and 
finding that he acknowledged that influence in me, I led the 
way straight home. It was not far; only at the summit of 
the hill. We passed but one man. I doubted if we should 
have got home without assistance; the boy's steps were so 
uncertain and tremulous. He made no complaint, however, 
and was strangely unconcerned about himself, if I may say 
so strange a thing 

Leaving him in the hall for a moment, shrunk into the 
corner of the window-seat, and staring with an indifference 
that scarcely could be called wonder, at the comfort and 
brightness about him, I went into the drawing-room to speak 
to my guardian. There I found Mr. Skimpole, who had come 
down by the coach, as he frequently did without notice, and 
never bringing any clothes with him, but always borrowing 
everything he wanted. 



526 



BLEAK HOUSE. 






They came out with me directly, to look at the boy. The 
servants had gathered in the hall, too; and he shivered in 
the window-seat with Charley standing by him, like some 
wounded animal that had been found in a ditch. 

"This is a sorrowful case," said my guardian, after asking 
him a question or two, and touching him, and examining his 
eyes. "What do you say, HfciEokL? "' 

" You had better turn him out," said Mr. Skimpole. 

"What do you mean? 11 inquired my guardian, almost 
sternly. 

" My dear Jarndyce," said Mr. Skimpole, " you know what 
I am : I am a child. Be cross to me, if I deserve it. But 
I have a constitutional objection to this sort of thing. I 
always had, when I was a medical man. He's not safe, you 
know. There's a very bad sort of fever about him." 

Mr. Skimpole had retreated from the hall to the drawing- 
room again, and said this in his airy way, seated on the 
music-stool as we stood by. 

"You'll say it's childish," observed Mr. Skimpole, looking 
gaily at us. " Well, I dare say it may be ; but I am a child, 
and I never pretend to be anything else. If you put him 
out in the road, you only put him where he was before. He 
will be no worse off than he was, you know. Even make 
him better off, if you like. Give him sixpence, or five 
shillings, or five pound ten you are arithmeticians, and I 
am not and get rid of him ! " 

" And what is he to do then ? " asked my guardian. 

" Upon my life," said Mr. Skimpole, shrugging his 
shoulders with his engaging smile, " I have not the least 
idea what he is to do then. But I have no doubt he'll 
do it." 

" Now, is it not a horrible reflection," said my guardian, to 
whom I had hastily explained the unavailing efforts of the 
two women, " is it not a horrible reflection," walking up and 
down and rumpling his hair, " that if this wretched creature 
were a convicted prisoner, his hospital would be wide open 



WHAT IS TO BE DONE? 527 

to him, and he would be as well taken care of as any sick 
boy in the kingdom ? " 

"My dear Jarndyce," returned Mr. Skimpole, "you'll 
pardon the simplicity of the question, coming as it does from 
a creature who is perfectly simple in worldly matters but, 
why isnt he a prisoner then ? " 

My guardian stopped and looked at him with a whimsical 
mixture of amusement and indignation in his face. 

" Our young friend is not to be suspected of any delicacy, 
I should imagine," said Mr. Skimpole, unabashed and candid. 
" It seems to me that it would be wiser, as well as in a 
certain kind of way more respectable, if he showed some 
misdirected energy that got him into prison. There would 
be more of an adventurous spirit in it, and consequently more 
of a certain sort of poetry." 

" I believe," returned my guardian, resuming his uneasy walk, 
" that there is not such another child on earth as yourself." 

" Do you really ? " said Mr. Skimpole ; " I dare say ! But, 
I confess I don't see why our young friend, in his degree, 
should not seek to invest himself with such poetry as is open 
to him. He is no doubt born with an appetite probably, 
when he is in a safer state of health, he has an excellent 
appetite. Very well. At our young friend's natural dinner 
hour, most likely about noon, our young friend says in effect 
to society, ' I am hungry ; will you have the goodness to 
produce your spoon, and feed me?' Society, which has 
taken upon itself the general arrangement of the whole 
system of spoons, and professes to have a spoon for our 
young friend, does not produce that spoon ; and our young 
friend, therefore, says, ' You really must excuse me if I seize 
it.' Now, this appears to me a case of misdirected energy, 
which has a certain amount of reason in it, and a certain 
amount of romance; and I don't know but what I should 
be more interested in our young friend, as an illustration of 
such a case, than merely as a poor vagabond which any one 
can be." 



528 BLEAK HOUSE. 

"In the meantime," I ventured to observe, "he is getting 
worse." 

"In the meantime," said Mr. Skimpole cheerfully, "as 
Miss Summerson, with her practical good sense, observes, he 
is getting worse. Therefore I recommend your turning him 
out before he gets still worse." 

The amiable face with which he said it, I think I shall 
never forget. 

" Of course, little woman," observed my guardian, turning 
to me, " I can ensure his admission into the proper place by 
merely going there to enforce it, though it's a bad state of 
things when, in his condition, that is necessary. But it's 
growing late, and is a very bad night, and the boy is worn 
out already. There is a bed in the wholesome loft-room by 
the stable ; we had better keep him there till morning, when 
he can be wrapped up and removed. We'll do that." 

" O ! " said Mr. Skimpole, with his hands upon the keys of 
the piano, as we moved away. " Are you going back to our 
young friend ? " 

" Yes," said my guardian. 

" How I envy you your constitution, Jarndyce ! " returned 
Mr. Skimpole, with playful admiration. "You don't mind 
these things, neither does Miss Summerson. You are ready 
at all times to go anywhere, and do anything. Such is 
Will ! I have no Will at all and no Won't simply 
Can't." 

"You can't recommend anything for the boy, I suppose?" 
said my guardian, looking back over his shoulder, half angrily ; 
only half angrily, for he never seemed to consider Mr. Skim 
pole an accountable being. 

" My dear Jarndyce, I observed a bottle of cooling medicine 
in his pocket, and it's impossible for him to do better than 
take it. You can tell them to sprinkle a little vinegar about 
the place where he sleeps, and to keep it moderately cool, and 
him moderately warm. But it is mere impertinence in me 
to offer any recommendation. Miss Summerson has such a 



i 



A PATHETIC LITTLE BALLAD. 



529 



knowledge of detail, and such a capacity for the administra 
tion of detail, that she knows all about it." 

We went back into the hall, and explained to Jo what we 
proposed to do, which Charley explained to him again, and 
which he received with the languid unconcern I had already 
noticed, wearily looking on at what was done, as if it were for 
somebody else. The servants compassionating his miserable 
state, and being very anxious to help, we soon got the loft- 
room ready ; and some of the men about the house carried 
him across the wet yard, well wrapped up. It was pleasant 
to observe how kind they were to him, and how there ap 
peared to be a general impression among them that fre 
quently calling him "Old Chap" was likely to revive his 
spirits. Charley directed the operations, and went to and 
fro between the loft-room and the house with such little 
stimulants and comforts as we thought it safe to give him. 
My guardian himself saw him before he was left for the 
night, and reported to me, when he returned to the Growlery 
to write a letter on the boy's behalf, which a messenger 
was charged to deliver at daylight in the morning, that he 
seemed easier, and inclined to sleep. They had fastened his 
door on the outside, he said, in case of his being delirious; 
but had so arranged that he could not make any noise 
without being heard. 

Ada being in our room with a cold, Mr. Skimpole was left 
alone all this time, and entertained himself by playing 
snatches of pathetic airs, and sometimes singing to them (as 
we heard at a distance) with great expression and feeling. 
When we rejoined him in the drawing-room he said he 
would give us a little ballad, which had come into his head, 
"apropos of our young friend;" and he sang one about a 
Peasant boy, 

" Thrown on the wide world, doom'd to wander and roam, 
Bereft of his parents, bereft of a home," 

quite exquisitely. It was a song that always made him 
cry, he told us. 



VOL. I. 



M 



530 BLEAK HOUSE. 

He was extremely gay all the rest of the evening : " for he 
absolutely chirped," those were his delighted words ; " when 
he thought by what a happy talent for business he was 
surrounded."" He gave us, in his glass of negus, " Better 
health to our young friend ! " and supposed, and gaily pur 
sued, the case of his being reserved like Whittington to 
become Lord Mayor of London. In that event, no doubt, 
he would establish the Jarndyce Institution and the Summer- 
son Almshouses, and a little annual Corporation Pilgrimage 
to St. Albans. He had no doubt, he said, that our young 
friend was an excellent boy in his way, but his way was 
not the Harold Skimpole way; what Harold Skimpole was, 
Harold Skimpole had found himself, to his considerable sur 
prise, when he first made his own acquaintance; he had 
accepted himself with all his failings, and had thought it 
sound philosophy to make the best of the bargain ; and he 
hoped we would do the same. 

Charley's last report was, that the boy was quiet. I could 
see, from my window, the lantern they had left him burning 
quietly; and I went to bed very happy to think that he was 
sheltered. 

There was more movement and more talking than usual a 
little before daybreak, and it awoke me. As I was dressing, 
I looked out of my window, and asked one of our men who 
had been among the active sympathisers last night, whether 
there was anything wrong about the house. The lantern 
was still burning in the loft-window. 

" It's the boy, miss, 1 ' said he. 

" Is he worse ? " I inquired. 

"Gone, miss." 

"Dead!" 

"Dead, miss? No. Gone clean off." 

At what time of the night he had gone, or how, or why, 
it seemed hopeless ever to divine. The door remaining as it 
had been left, and the lantern standing in the window, it 
could only be supposed that he had got out by a trap in the 



THE PATIENT GONE. 



531 



floor which communicated with an empty cart-house below. 
But he had shut it down again, if that were so ; and it 
looked as if it had not been raised. Nothing of any kind 
was missing. On this fact being clearly ascertained, we all 
yielded to the painful belief that delirium had come upon 
him in the night, and that, allured by some imaginary object, 
or pursued by some imaginary horror, he had strayed away 
in that worse than helpless state ; all of us, that is to say, 
but Mr. Skimpole, who repeatedly suggested, in his usual 
easy light style, that it had occurred to our young friend 
that he was not a safe inmate, having a bad kind of fever 
upon him ; and that he had, with great natural politeness, 
taken himself off. 

Every possible inquiry was made, and every place was 
searched. The brick-kilns were examined, the cottages were 
visited, the two women were particularly questioned, but they 
knew nothing of him, and nobody could doubt that their 
wonder was genuine. The weather had for some time been 
too wet, and the night itself had been too wet, to admit 
of any tracing by footsteps. Hedge and ditch, and wall, 
and rick and stack, were examined by our men for a long 
distance round, lest the boy should be lying in such a place 
insensible or dead ; but nothing was seen to indicate that he 
had ever been near. From the time when he was left in the 
loft-room, he vanished. 

The search continued for five days. I do not mean that it 
ceased, even then ; but that my attention was then diverted 
into a current very memorable to me. 

As Charley was at her writing again in my room in the 
evening, and as I sat opposite to her at work, I felt the table 
tremble. Looking up, I saw my little maid shivering from 
head to foot. 

" Charley," said I, " are you so cold ? " 

"I think I am, miss," she replied. "I don't know what it 
is. I can't hold myself still, I felt so, yesterday; at about 
this same time, miss. Don't be uneasy, I think I'm ill." 



532 BLEAK HOUSE. 

I heard Ada's voice outside, and I hurried to the door of 
communication between my room and our pretty sitting-room, 
and locked it. Just in time, for she tapped at it while my 
hand was yet upon the key. 

Ada called to me to let her in ; but I said, " Not now, my 
dearest. Go away. There's nothing the matter ; I will come 
to you presently." Ah ! it was a long, long time, before my 
darling girl and I were companions again. 

Charley fell ill. In twelve hours she was very ill. I 
moved her to my room, and laid her in my bed, and sat down 
quietly to nurse her. I told my guardian all about it, and 
why I felt it was necessary that I should seclude myself, and 
my reason for not seeing my darling above all. At first she 
came very often to the door, and called to me, and even 
reproached me with sobs and tears; but I wrote her a long 
letter, saying that she made me anxious and unhappy, and 
imploring her, as she loved me, and wished my mind to be 
at peace, to come no nearer than the garden. After that, 
she came beneath the window, even oftener than she had 
come to the door ; and, if I had learnt to love her dear sweet 
voice before when we were hardly ever apart, how did I learn 
to love it then, when I stood behind the window-curtain 
listening and replying, but not so much as looking out ! 
How did I learn to love it afterwards, when the harder time 
came ! 

They put a bed for me in our sitting-room ; and by keep 
ing the door wide open, I turned the two rooms into one, 
now that Ada had vacated that part of the house, and kept 
them always fresh and airy. There was not a servant, in or 
about the house, but was so good that they would all most 
gladly have come to me at any hour of the day or night, 
without the least fear or unwillingness; but I thought it 
best to choose one worthy woman who was never to see Ada, 
and whom I could trust to come and go with all precaution. 
Through her means, I got out to take the air with my 
guardian, when there was no fear of meeting Ada ; and 



CHARLEY AND CHARLEY'S NURSE. 533 

wanted for nothing in the way of attendance, any more than 
in any other respect. 

And thus poor Charley sickened and grew worse, and fell 
into heavy danger of death, and lay severely ill for many a 
long round of day and night. So patient she was, so uncom 
plaining, and inspired by such a gentle fortitude, that very 
often as I sat by Charley, holding her head in my arms 
repose would come to her, so, when it would come to her in 
no other attitude I silently prayed to our Father in heaven 
that I might not forget the lesson which this little sister 
taught me. 

I was very sorrowful to think that Charley's pretty looks 
would change and be disfigured, even if she recovered she 
was such a child with her dimpled face but that thought 
was, for the greater part, lost in her greater peril. When 
she was at the worst, and her mind rambled again to the 
cares of her father's sick bed, and the little children, she still 
knew me so far as that she would be quiet in my arms when 
she could lie quiet nowhere else, and murmur out the 
wanderings of her mind less restlessly. At those times I 
used to think, how should I ever tell the two remaining 
babies that the baby who had learned of her faithful heart 
to be a mother to them in their need, was dead ! 

There were other times when Charley knew me well, and 
talked to me ; telling me that she sent her love to Tom and 
Emma, and that she was sure Tom would grow up to be a 
good man. At those times, Charley would speak to me of 
what she had read to her father as well as she could, to 
comfort him ; of that young man carried out to be buried, 
who was the only son of his mother and she was a widow ; of 
the ruler's daughter raised up by the gracious hand upon her 
bed of death. And Charley told me that when her father 
died, she had kneeled down and prayed in her first sorrow 
that he likewise might be raised up, and given back to his 
poor children ; and that if she should never get better, and 
should die too, she thought it likely that it might come into 
T 2 M 3 



534 BLEAK HOUSE. 

Tom's mind to offer the same prayer for her. Then would 
I show Tom how these people of old days had been brought 
back to life on earth, only that we might know our hope to 
be restored to Heaven ! 

But of all the various times there were in Charley's illness, 
there was not one when she lost the gentle qualities I have 
spoken of. And there were many, many, when I thought 
in the night of the last high belief in the watching Angel, 
and the last higher trust in God, on the part of her poor 
despised father. 

And Charley did not die. She flutteringly and slowly 
turned the dangerous point, after long lingering there, and 
then began to mend. The hope that never had been given, 
from the first, of Charley being in outward appearance Charley 
any more, soon began to be encouraged ; and even that 
prospered, and I saw her growing into her old childish like 
ness again. 

It was a great morning, when I could tell Ada all this as 
she stood out in the garden ; and it was a great evening, 
when Charley and I at last took tea together in the next 
room. But, on that same evening, I felt that I was stricken 
old. 

Happily for both of us, it was not until Charley was safe 
in bed again and placidly asleep, that I began to think the 
contagion of her illness was upon me. I had been able easily 
to hide what I felt at tea-time, but I was past that already 
now, and I knew that I was rapidly following in Charley's 
steps. 

I was well enough, however, to be up early in the morning, 
and to return my darling's cheerful blessing from the garden, 
and to talk with her as long as usual. But I was not free 
from an impression that I had been walking about the two 
rooms in the night, a little beside myself, though knowing 
where I was; and I felt confused at times with a curious 
sense of fulness, as if I were becoming too large altogether. 

In the evening I was so much worse, that I resolved to 



CHARLEY NOW TURNS NURSE. 535 

prepare Charley; with which view, I said, "You're getting 
quite strong, Charley, are you not?" 

" O quite ! " said Charley. 

" Strong enough to be told a secret, I think, Charley ? " 

" Quite strong enough for that, miss!" cried Charley. 
But Charley's face fell in the height of her delight, for she saw 
the secret in my face ; and she came out of the great chair, 
and fell upon my bosom, and said, "O miss, it's my doing! 
It's my doing ! " and a great deal more, out of the fulness of 
her grateful heart. 

"Now, Charley," said I, after letting her go on for a little 
while, " if I am to be ill, my great trust, humanly speaking, 
is in you. And unless you are as quiet and composed for 
me, as you always were for yourself, you can never fulfil it, 
Charley." 

44 If you'll let me cry a little longer, miss," said Charley. " O 
my dear, my dear! if you'll only let me cry a little longer, 

my dear!" how affectionately and devotedly she poured 
this out, as she clung to my neck, I never can remember 
without tears" I'll be good." 

So I let Charley cry a little longer, and it did us both 
good. 

" Trust in me now, if you please, miss," said Charley, quietly. 
u I am listening to everything you say." 

* It's very little at present, Charley. I shall tell your 
doctor to-night that I don't think I am well, and that you 
are going to nurse me." 

For that the poor child thanked me with her whole heart. 

"And in the morning, when you hear Miss Ada in the 
garden, if I should not be quite able to go to the window- 
curtain as usual, do you go, Charley, and say I am asleep 
that I have rather tired myself, and am asleep. At all 
times keep the room as I have kept it, Charley, and let no 
one come." 

Charley promised, and I lay down, for I was very heavy. 

1 saw the doctor that night, and asked the favour of him 



536 



BLEAK HOUSE. 






that I wished to ask, relative to his saying nothing of my 
illness in the house as yet. I have a very indistinct remem 
brance of that night melting into day, and of day melting 
into night again ; but I was just able, on the first morning, to 
get to the window, and speak to my darling. 

On the second morning I heard her dear voice O how dear 
now ! outside ; and I asked Charley, with some difficulty 
(speech being painful to me), to go and say I was asleep. I 
heard her answer softly, " Don^t disturb her, Charley, for the 
world ! " 

" How does my own Pride look, Charley ? " I inquired. 

"Disappointed, miss," said Charley, peeping through the 
curtain. 

"But I know she is very beautiful this morning/' 1 

" She is indeed, miss," answered Charley, peeping. " Still 
looking up at the window." 

With her blue clear eyes, God bless them, always loveliest 
when raised like that ! 

I called Charley to me, and gave her her last charge. 

" Now, Charley, when she knows I am ill, she will try to 
make her way into the room. Keep her out, Charley, if you 
love me truly, to the last ! Charley, if you let her in but 
once, only to look upon me for one moment as I lie here, I 
shall die." 

" I never will ! I never will ! " she promised me. 

" I believe it, my dear Charley. And now come and sit 
beside me for a little while, and touch me with your hand. 
For I cannot see you, Charley; I am blind." 



NOTES ON BLEAK HOUSE. 



CHAPTER I. 

" High Court of Chancery." 

Bleak House does not contain Dickens's first assault on Chancery. 
The popular reputation of the Court is conspicuous in the phrase of 
the Fancy, "The Chicken's head was in Chancery," that is, tucked 
under an opponent's left arm and punished by his right. In Household 
Words, 1850-51, "Martyr